STUDENTS
21/11/2013 07:09 GMT

York Students Apologise For Jamaican Blackface Costume At Halloween Party

Students who "blacked up" as the Jamaican bobsleigh team, made famous by the film Cool Runnings, have apologised saying they were "not aware" they were mocking anyone.

The four York University students, who issued the public apology anonymously so as "not to attract further external attention", said they were "profoundly sorry" for damaging the institution's reputation.

SEE ALSO: Law Students In Race Row After 'Blacking Up' As Somalian Pirates

Students Don 9/11 Twin Towers Fancy Dress, Complete With Victims

London Student In Blackface Halloween Costume Wins Fancy Dress Prize

"We were not aware of the connections between black painted faces and the minstrel shows of the 19th and 20th centuries, which promoted the mocking of stereotypes, the perpetuation of which is harmful to the stability of our increasingly multicultural society," the apology read. "Had we been aware of this at the time, we would have never have considered this a Halloween costume.

"There was no intent of malice or offence, the costumes were not chosen to mock or insult the BME students of York, or any members of the wider community."

Read the apology in full at the bottom of the article.

After the pictures of the four in "fancy dress" emerged, fellow students described their "disgust", with the president of York's student union condemning the stunt as "ridiculous".

“I can’t see how any one studying here at the University of York would think this ridiculous behaviour is anywhere near appropriate in any context," Kallum Taylor, YUSU president, said.

"Once this is all said and done with I just hope, for their sake, that those involved take a serious lesson from this so that it doesn’t affect their futures.”

cool runnings

The York students dressed up as the Jamaican bobsleigh team, as depicted in the Cool Runnings film

Some of the students involved also caused £2,000 worth of damage in a drunken rampage at their university. When billed with the cost of repairing the damage, one student said: "£200 cleaning charge for 15 minutes worth of cleaning. Question, where do I apply to become a cleaner?"

Another student was ordered by police to leave York's city walls after being caught urinating on the street.

huffpoststudentshuffpoststudents

The controversy attracted the attention of national media, with even the Jamaican Observer reporting on the students' actions.

The students' apology, which was sent to HuffPost UK by student paper York Vision, in full:

Dear students and staff of York university,

We are writing to apologise for the offence we have caused following our idiotic choice to ‘black up’ for our Halloween costumes, where we dressed as the characters of ‘Cool Runnings’, the Jamaican bobsleigh team of 1988 winter Olympics. There was no intent of malice or offence, the costumes were not chosen to mock or insult the BME students of York, or any members of the wider community.

We were not aware of the connections between black painted faces and the minstrel shows of the 19th and 20th centuries, which promoted the mocking of stereotypes, the perpetuation of which is harmful to the stability of our increasingly multicultural society. Had we been aware of this at the time, we would have never have considered this a Halloween costume.

Ignorance, however, can no way mitigate the consequences of our actions. We have learnt a hard lesson from this. However we do understand that it is not enough to simply apologise and we hope that in time you can forgive us.

We are also profoundly sorry for the damage we have done to the University’s reputation and stature. We recognise that we are a part of York University and are sorry that we have let you down. We understand as students of York University that we represent it, and that any and all of our actions have consequences. We hope you can forgive us for our actions and our behaviour.

Also we would finally like to add that on behalf of M block we are humbly sorry about the damage caused to the ground floor kitchen, this behaviour is unacceptable. We are sincerely sorry for our behaviour and are looking to paying back the penalties as soon as possible.

HuffPost UK has chosen not to publish pictures of the students, which appeared on York Vision's website.