- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 3, 2016

A University of Oregon law professor has been placed on administrative leave after she reportedly wore blackface to a private Halloween costume party.

University President Michael Schill said the incident happened at an off-campus party attended by other faculty members and students.

“We condemn this action unequivocally as anathema to the University of Oregon’s cherished values of racial diversity and inclusion,” Mr. Schill said in a statement Tuesday. “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 professor, identified by a local ABC News affiliate as Nancy Shurtz, sent a letter to students explaining that she chose her costume based on a character in Damon Tweedy’s New York Times bestseller, “Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine.”

“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),” Ms. Shurtz wrote. “I am sorry if it did not come off well. I, of all people, would not want to offend.”

Despite her apology, the backlash against Ms. Schurtz has been swift. On Wednesday, a petition demanding that she immediately resign was started by Moorisha Bey-Taylor, a former Law School student. It’s garnered 653 signatures.

Twenty-three faculty members also wrote a letter demanding that Ms. Shurtz resign.

“Blackface is patently offensive,” the faculty letter stated. “It is overtly racist. It is wildly inappropriate. It reflects a profound lack of judgment. There is no excuse. Your actions implicate all of us and our community.

“If you care about our students, you will resign,” it read. “If you care about our ability to educate future lawyers, you will resign. If you care about our alumni, you will resign.”

UO Law dean Michael Moffitt on Wednesday placed Ms. Shurtz on administrative leave “in order to ensure the safety of all concerned and the smooth operation of the law school,” The Register-Guard reported.

The UO Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity is investigating.

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