The school renames ‘mufti day’ with ‘be yourself day’ for concern, the term is culturally insensitive

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School renames ‘mufti day’ with ‘be yourself day’ for fear of long-term name is culturally insensitive

  • A school in New Zealand has renamed ‘Mufti Day’ to the new ‘Be Yourself Day’
  • School received concerns that the informal use of the Arabic name was insensitive
  • Heretaunga College in Upper Hutt held its first ‘be yourself day’ last Tuesday
  • Assistant principal says the new name has inspired students to be more creative

A school has renamed its ‘mufti day’ to ‘be yourself day’ after concerns about the colloquial use of the Arabic word was culturally insensitive.

Heretaunga College, in Upper Hutt, New Zealand, held its first ‘be yourself day’ last Tuesday after asking senior students to investigate if ‘mufti’ was outdated.

Assistant director Matthew Lambert said that while there were no formal complaints about the use of the term, last year’s girl had questioned its appropriateness.

He said that after hearing whispers that other schools were planning to abandon the term, three principal students were asked to investigate its origins and report their findings.

Heretaunga College - located in Upper Hutt, New Zealand - held its first 'be yourself day' last Tuesday after extensive research found the term 'mufti' was culturally insensitive

Heretaunga College – located in Upper Hutt, New Zealand – held its first ‘be yourself day’ last Tuesday after extensive research found the term ‘mufti’ was culturally insensitive

They came back with some pretty interesting things. Some links to Islam and things like that, definitions of the word from the past and of course what it means now, as well as their own summary of the whole scenario, ” Mr. Lambert told de NZ Herald

The school management group then discovered a Spinoff article in which the University of Canterbury historian Kate Pickles outlined the colonial origins of Mufti Day.

The historian revealed how British military leaders off duty in India in the 19th century wore the clothes of local Muslim clerics to mock them.

The adoption of the clothes led the British military to use the word mufti to describe their days without a uniform, which was later picked up by the British school system.

Promotional posters and a message on the university's instagram (photo) alerted students to the new name 'be yourself day'

Promotional posters and a message on the university's instagram (photo) alerted students to the new name 'be yourself day'

Promotional posters and a message on the university’s instagram (photo) alerted students to the new name ‘be yourself day’

After months of reflection, the university’s main and executive groups voted to drop the Arabic word for good, as they decided it could be offensive to staff and students.

Promotional posters hung around the school and a message on the school’s Instagram warned students against the new name ‘be yourself day’.

Students were asked to bring a $ 2 donation for the non-uniform day, with half of the proceeds donated to the Te Pa Manawa Shelter Britannia House in Petone.

Head boy Cameron Prince said there had been mixed reactions from the Heretaunga students, but in general his fellow classmates had accepted the change.

Assistant Principal of Heretaunga College (pictured) Matthew Lambert said 'be yourself day' encouraged staff and students to express themselves more creatively

Assistant Principal of Heretaunga College (pictured) Matthew Lambert said 'be yourself day' encouraged staff and students to express themselves more creatively

Assistant Principal of Heretaunga College (pictured) Matthew Lambert said ‘be yourself day’ encouraged staff and students to express themselves more creatively

“A lot of people don’t understand the history behind the term, so there has been a little bit of negative feedback coming up, but I’ve heard a lot of positive feedback saying it was a good move for the school,” he said.

Mr Lambert said staff and students have embraced ‘be yourself today’ as an opportunity to express themselves more authentically and creatively.

“For example, one of our employees is very busy with his spearfishing and freediving, so he wore part of his spear fishing gear with a suit and a terrycloth poncho over it,” he explained.

The assistant principal also linked the new term to the college’s decision to replace ‘excellence’ – one of the school’s mottos – with ’empathy’.

“We call them our values ​​for pride, which are participation, respect, integrity, determination and empathy,” he said.

“So it fits very well with our value for empathy, putting ourselves in the shoes of others.”

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