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University of Oregon Law Professor Under Fire for Wearing Blackface

EUGENE, Ore. ― A petition is calling for a senior law professor to resign from his position at the University of Oregon after she wore blackface for Halloween.

Law School Dean Michael Moffitt said the unidentified professor has been placed on administrative leave pending the completion of a civil rights investigation, The Register-Guard reported.

“The use of blackface, even in jest at a Halloween party, is patently offensive and reinforces historically racist stereotypes,” university President Michael Schill wrote in an email he sent to students. “It was a stupid act and is in no way defensible.”

Undergraduate Opal Farrell said students and faculty discussed the incident in all of her classes Wednesday.

“People are pissed. Professors are upset. Students in general are upset,” Farrell said. “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.”

The university’s Black Student Union planned a meeting Wednesday evening to discuss a response.

Witnesses who saw the professor say she was dressed as “Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine,” a recent autobiography by Dr. Damon Tweedy that recounts the racism he encountered in medical school.

In his email to students, Schill said the professor has apologized for the decision and expressed concern about how her costume could potentially have impacted members of the university community.

“This incident makes us even more determined to ensure that no member of the UO community feels isolated or alienated on this campus as a result of intentional or unintentional racist behavior,” he wrote in the email, which also was signed by Provost Scott Coltrane, Vice President Yvette Alex Assensoh and Moffitt, the law dean.

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