A law professor at the University of Oregon was placed on leave after the instructor allegedly attended a Halloween party wearing blackface.
Students are now calling for the resignation of the professor. The petition needs to gain 100 signatures before they can present it to the dean of the law school.
The professor — who KEZI identified as Nancy Shurtz — released a statement that attempted to explain her costume.
"I chose my costume based on a book that I read and liked — Black Man in a White Coat. I thought I would be able to teach with this costume as well (or at least tell an interesting story). When I asked my daughter who is at Brown Medical School the demographics of her medical school class, she said 'they do not give those statistics out mom,' but later when she asked the administration, they said there was _not one black male _student in the class. She and others were outraged. She was able to get the administration to assign a portion of this book (the one where the black medical student was thought to be the janitor) out to students.
I am sorry if it did not come off well. I, of all people, would not want to offend.
However, many students do not care for the explanation and believe the costume was still outrageous and offensive.
School faculty members also noted how inappropriate the professor’s costume was.
“We condemn this action unequivocally as anathema to the University of Oregon’s cherished values of racial diversity and inclusion,” the university’s president, Michael Schill, said in a written statement. “The use of blackface, even in jest at a Halloween party, is patently offensive and reinforces historically racist stereotypes. It was a stupid act and is in no way defensible.”
Additionally, other professors called for Shurtz’s resignation in an open letter, written on November 2nd.
If these allegations are true, and you did in fact wear blackface to a Halloween party, you need to resign. It doesn’t matter what your intentions were. It doesn’t matter if it was protected by the First Amendment. Blackface is patently offensive. It is overtly racist. It is wildly inappropriate. It reflects a profound lack of judgment. There is no excuse. We are angry that you would alienate our students, staff, and faculty of color. We are angry that you would destroy what others have worked hard to build. Your actions implicate all of us and our community. If you care about our students, you will resign. If you care about our ability to educate future lawyers, you will resign. If you care about our alumni, you will resign.”
The letter was signed by 23 faculty members.
(Photo: KEZI/ ABC Local News Eugene, OR)