University of Oregon Law Professor Put on Leave After Wearing Blackface to Halloween Party

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A University of Oregon law professor was placed on administrative leave Thursday after wearing a costume that included blackface to a Halloween party attended by faculty and students.

“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.”

Many college officials warned students this fall, at a time when racial tensions are high, to think about their Halloween costumes to avoid offending others with cultural stereotypes.

The idea that a faculty member at the School of Law would wear blackface shocked students and others.

In a similar incident last year, the president of the University of Louisville apologized for wearing a stereotypical Mexican costume at a Halloween party.

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.

That led some to question whether the professor’s free speech was being hindered at a public university.

But some law professors called on their colleague 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.

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Source: The Washington Post | Susan Svrluga