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Nov 04, 2016 08:48 AM EDT

University Of Oregon Law Professor Suspended After Wearing Blackface To Party

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A University of Oregon educator has been suspended for reportedly wearing blackface to a private Halloween costume party. The law professor is being asked to resign if the incident is true.

According to The Washington Times, University of Oregon president Michael Schill said that the incident happened at an off-campus party. Other faculty members and students were in attendance, too.

"We condemn this action unequivocally as anathema to the University of Oregon's cherished values of racial diversity and inclusion," Schill wrote in an official 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."

Schill did reveal, though, that the faculty member has apologized for the decision. The person involved has also expressed concern over its potential impact on members of the school's community.

The school's Division of Equity and Inclusion has also created a UO African American Workshop and Lecture Series. This and an implicit bias training, which is now required for faculty searches, are developed to help increase understanding on diversity and inclusion.

KEZi.com reported that the professor involved is Nancy Shurtz. She explained that her costume was about 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)," she wrote in a letter to students. "I am sorry if it did not come off well. I, of all people, would not want to offend."

Oregon Live added that a group of 23 School of Law faculty members are calling on Shurtz to resign. A student group also started an online petition on Wednesday for her resignation.

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