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Law Professor Put On Leave After She Wore Blackface For Halloween

The University of Oregon professor was reportedly depicting a 2015 autobiography, Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine.

Posted on November 3, 2016, at 5:36 p.m. ET

A law professor at the University of Oregon has been put on administrative leave after she wore blackface at a private, off-campus Halloween party that was attended by other faculty members and students, the school said on Tuesday.

Today's pick: UO law professor's blackface costume sends shock waves through university. @diane_dietz…

The university condemned the unidentified law professor, saying her use of blackface was "patently offensive" and "stupid."

"We condemn this action unequivocally as anathema to the University of Oregon’s cherished values of racial diversity and inclusion," the president and other UO leaders wrote in a campus-wide email.

"The use of blackface, even in jest at a Halloween party, is patently offensive and reinforces historically racist stereotypes," the email said. "It was a stupid act and is in no way defensible."

The university confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the professor was put on administrative leave pending an investigation into whether her actions violated university policy.

The professor has apologized for her decision and "has expressed concern about its potential impact on members of the community," the president's statement said. She also acknowledged that the "costume choice was unacceptable under any circumstances."

Another UO professor told The Register-Guard that the professor wearing blackface meant for her costume to depict a 2015 autobiography — Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine. In the book, Damon Tweedy, a black doctor, documented his experiences of racism in America's medical system.

Elizabeth Frost, a UO law professor, told BuzzFeed News, "As far as I know from what I've read in the news, that is the character she was trying to portray with her costume."

Witnesses at the party told The Register-Guard that the professor was showing other guests Tweedy's book.

In an open letter to the professor, 23 of her colleagues and faculty members demanded her resignation, saying "there is no excuse" for wearing blackface, which they said was "overtly racist."

In the letter, provided to BuzzFeed News, the faculty members said the professor's actions "implicate all of us and our community.

"Blackface is patently offensive. It is overtly racist. It is wildly

inappropriate. It reflects a profound lack of judgment. There is no excuse. It doesn’t matter what your intentions were. It doesn’t matter if it was protected by the First Amendment.

"If you care about our students, you will resign. If you care about our ability to educate future lawyers, you will resign. If you care about our alumni, you will resign."

A petition demanding the professor's resignation had garnered more than 600 supporters on Thursday.

The petition, launched by an UO Law Alumnus, said "We Alumni, Faculty, Staff, Current Students and Greater Community Members are deeply offended and outraged by the actions of this law professor."

The petition, which identified the law professor, demanded her resignation.

Other UO alumni also took to Twitter to demand her resignation.

Lifetime UO alumni member/DoubleDuck/ BA '98 & JD '02 here. The UO Law prof who thought blackface was acceptable should resign immediately.

The school's Black Student Union organized a meeting to discuss the issue "due to the seriousness of the matter."

Facebook: University

The group did not respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.