A petition is circulating at the University of Oregon that calls for the resignation of a senior law professor who wore blackface to an off-campus Halloween party, ABC 7-Chicago reports.
While the petition campaign goes forward, the professor is on administrative leave until completion of a civil rights investigation, the law school’s dean said.
According to witnesses, the professor was dressed as a Black doctor, inspired by Dr. Damon Tweedy’s memoir titled Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine.
The school has not officially identified the professor. However, KEZI reported named Nancy Shurtz as the law professor at the center of the firestorm. Shurtz declined to speak to the TV station about the incident until consulting first with her attorney. The news outlet reported that Shurtz issued an apology and explained her behavior in a letter to students.
University of Oregon President Michael Schill stated in an email to students that the behavior is unacceptable:
“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.”
He added that the professor apologized, but for many that’s not enough.
“Professors are upset. Students in general are upset,” Opal Farrell, an undergrad told the Associated Press. “The university should absolutely release the professor’s name. The students have a right to know – and the right to choose not to take a class from this person.”