University Of Oregon Law Professor Placed On Administrative Leave
The University of Oregon has responded to one of their law professors wearing blackface as part of her Halloween costume by placing her on administrative leave Thursday, according to Washington Post reports:
“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.”
The University of Oregon professor has apologized, Schill wrote, and the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity is determining whether the costume is a violation of university policy.
Ironically, the Black Student Union at UO planned a meeting about cultural appropriation before Halloween, explaining to students how costumes that play off cultural stereotypes can be offensive to other.
“We were expecting this to come from students,” said Natashia Greene, a sophomore. “Not a grown woman. For a law professor, an adult, a grown woman — for us to worry about a professor — that is where the pain comes from. … That makes it hurt way more. She teaches us. She’s in charge of our grades. She’s in charge of our education.”
And while some people may be satisfied with the professor being put on leave, other members of her department have called on her to resign if the allegations are true:
“It doesn’t matter what your intentions were. It doesn’t matter if it was protected by the First Amendment,” the letter signed by 23 faculty members said. “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.”
Over 600 people signed an online petition Thursday demanding the professor’s resignation, writing, “We alumni, faculty, staff, current students and greater community members are deeply offended and outraged. . . .”
The university declined to confirm the name of the professor, saying it is a personnel matter.
Ironically, the school had been making some strides toward progress before this event. Just this fall UO announced that a dorm named in honor of a former professor who had also Ku Klux Klan leader would be renamed, after students protested the building’s name.
According to Black Sports Online reports, the professor did apologize for her insensitive costume in a statement released this week:
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.
Eek… She definitely sounds well-meaning but completely tone deaf.
Do you think she should resign?
In the meantime, UO President Schill, who is also a faculty member in the School of Law, is stepping up on diversity training. He’s said implicit bias training would be required for all faculty-search-committee members, and “new training on micro-aggressions” will be offered this winter.
“Bigotry and racism have no place in our society or at the UO. Providing a welcoming, diverse, and inclusive environment for all is one of the university’s top priorities. We have been working for more than a year with our students to further these objectives,” Schill wrote in the letter, which was also signed by other top leaders at the university.
Yikes. But seriously. A LAW PROFESSOR? WHY IN GOD’s NAME DON’t PEOPLE JUST STOP WEARING BLACKFACE?!?