3 Alabama professors suspended after being seen in ‘racist’ costumes
Bob Wood was dressed as a Confederate soldier. Alex Sharland and Teresa Weldy posed holding a noose.
Blackface Halloween costumes have once again gotten their smiling white wearers in steaming hot water.
Three professors at the University of South Alabama have been placed on indefinitely paid leave after pictures of them from an on-campus Halloween party in 2014 surfaced.
Bob Wood, who was then the school’s dean of the Mitchell College of Business and is currently a finance professor, was captured dressed in the uniform of a Confederate soldier. Professors Alex Sharland and Teresa Weldy were seen posed holding a noose.
An independent investigation into the issue has been initiated by Suntrease Williams-Maynard, who is a former trial attorney for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
In a statement, the president of the University of South Alabama said he would support the investigation, and he addressed the students protesting.
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“We have pledged our full cooperation to Ms. Williams-Maynard in her investigation,” said Dr. Tony Waldrop. “The faculty members involved have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation and any related proceedings.”
“Along with the leadership of the University, I assure you that we are treating this situation with the utmost seriousness and with a commitment to acting upon the results of the investigation,” he maintained. “In the meantime, please join me in continuing our ongoing work to make the USA community one that proudly and steadfastly treats every person with respect and dignity.”
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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,” wrote Wood in a statement last week. “I sincerely apologize and am sorry for doing so, and ask for forgiveness for this error in judgment.”
Sharland, in his recent statement, said: “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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More than 2,500 students at the Mobile, Alabama-located college have called for the professors to resign.
Student Chante Moore told local news outlet WKRG TV “We have Black students on campus, how do you think that makes them feel? Do you care about your students?”
“It’s disappointing, however, it’s not surprising,” said Jason Barnes, a former USA student and past president of the campus’ NAACP chapter. “I think about Black students particularly. All minorities on the campus but particularly Black students because that noose obviously has a direct correlation with Black people as it pertains to violence against them, especially racialized violence and terror.”
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