A white professor at the University of Oregon is facing suspension after dressing up as a black scientist for a Halloween party.
According to witnesses, law professor Nancy Shurtz was dressed up to personify “Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine,” a book written by Damon Tweedy that recounts racism he encountered in medical school. Shurtz wore the costume to an off-campus Halloween event not affiliated with the university.
According to a letter she wrote to her students afterward, Shurtz simply intended to honor a book she appreciated while also drawing attention to the lack of diversity in professional fields.
Students, faculty, and alumni at the school are extremely irate, and many are demanding she immediately resign, Shurtz’s intentions notwithstanding.
Twenty-three of Shurtz’s colleagues at the law school, including 18 full professors already signed a letter demanding that she immediately resign, calling the costume choice “patently offensive” and incompatible with continued employment at the school where Shurtz spent 34 years of her life teaching.
“If you care about our students, you will resign,” the letter says. “If you care about our ability to educate future lawyers, you will resign. If you care about our alumni, you will resign.”
The school’s president, meanwhile, announced that all faculty will be required to undergo implicit bias training before being hired. Workshops on avoiding microaggressions will be offered as well. For the time being, Shurtz is on leave, a move the law school’s dean characterized as necessary for the “safety of all concerned.”
Ironically, Shurtz previously served as the chairwoman of the law school’s diversity committee.
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