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Professor Apologizes for Blackface Costume

November 7, 2016

Nancy Shurtz, a law professor at the University of Oregon, has issued an apology for a Halloween costume she wore featuring blackface. Shurtz has been placed on paid leave over the incident, which has led many at the university to call for her to resign. An image of her at the party (at right) has circulated widely on social media.

Her statement, in full: “During a Halloween party I hosted at my house, I wore a costume inspired by a book I highly admire, Dr. Damon Tweedy’s memoir, Black Man in a White Coat. I intended to provoke a thoughtful discussion on racism in our society, in our educational institutions and in our professions. As part of my costume, I applied black makeup to my face and wore a white coat and stethoscope. In retrospect, my decision to wear black makeup was wrong. It provoked a discussion of racism, but not as I intended. I am sorry for the resultant hurt and anger inspired by this event. It is cruelly ironic that this regrettable episode began with my admiration for a book that explores important aspects of race relations in our society, but ended up creating toxic feelings within our community. I intended to create a conversation about inequity, racism and our white blindness to them. Regrettably, I became an example of it. This has been a remarkable learning experience for me. I hope that all who are hurt or angered by my costume will accept my apology. I meant no harm to them or others. Out of respect for all involved, I will make no further comments to the media until the university’s investigation is completed.”

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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