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U of South Alabama Apologizes for Racist Halloween Photos

March 4, 2021

Racist photos from a 2014 campus Halloween event resurfaced at the University of South Alabama, with the university apologizing for not acting on them earlier, WKRG reported. The photos -- which were originally posted to a university Facebook page and have since been deleted -- show Bob Wood, then the dean of business, dressed as a Confederate general. Two professors, Alex Sharland and Teresa Weldy, posed with him with a whip and a noose.

Apologizing, President Tony Waldrop said in a statement that the photos were brought to the central administration’s attention in 2020, at which time the response “should have been stronger and broader, and should have more strongly demonstrated an unwavering commitment to a safe and welcoming environment for every member of our community.”

Announcing new diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and asking the campus community to contribute their own ideas for improvement, Waldrop said, “Our highest commitment and most important mission at the University of South Alabama is to education. This commitment includes the responsibility to learn from our mistakes. We are dedicated to doing so.”

Wood, who returned to the faculty from his deanship within the last few weeks, said in a statement, “Seven years ago, I rented and wore a last-minute costume that was ill-conceived to a faculty and student Halloween costume contest, at which I served on a panel of judges to select the winners. I sincerely apologize and am sorry for doing so, and ask for forgiveness for this error in judgment.”

Sharland said in a statement, “In retrospect I can see why someone might find the image hurtful, and I regret this attempt at humor that clearly failed. It was not my intent to hurt or be offensive, and if anyone is offended by this picture I apologize.”

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