Three Alabama Professors on Leave After Halloween Photos Surface

Three professors on the University of South Alabama have been positioned on depart after images surfaced of them carrying costumes and holding props at an on-campus celebration in 2014 that the college’s president stated had been “offensive” and “contrary to our core principles of diversity and inclusion.”

One photograph reveals Bob Wood, a professor of finance, dressed as a Confederate soldier. In one other photograph, Teresa Weldy, an assistant professor of administration, and Alex Sharland, a professor of promoting, pose with a whip and a noose.

“In these photos, members of our tenured faculty appear wearing and holding symbols that are offensive and contrary to the principles of diversity and inclusion that our university strives to incorporate into all of our decisions and actions,” Tony Waldrop, the college’s president, said in a statement this previous week. “We condemn the use of any and all racist images or symbols, which are not acceptable in any context on our campus.”

The images had been taken at a dressing up celebration on the Mitchell College of Business, the place Mr. Wood was the dean on the time, the assertion stated. They had been posted on the college’s Facebook web page however had been deleted in 2020.

Mr. Waldrop stated that the college’s response to the images in 2020 “should have been stronger and broader, and should have more clearly demonstrated our unwavering commitment to a safe and welcoming environment for every member of our community.”

“We acknowledge that, in our response to this incident, we failed in our obligations and responsibilities to our students, our employees and our community,” he stated.

Mr. Waldrop issued the assertion on March 2, a day after the images had been reported by WKRG-TV of Mobile, Ala., the place the college is predicated. On Friday, he issued a second assertion on the matter, saying that it will be investigated by Suntrease Williams-Maynard, who has served as a trial lawyer for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Mobile and as an assistant U.S. legal professional within the Southern District of Alabama and the Southern District of Texas.

Ms. Williams-Maynard didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

While the investigation is underway, the school members have been positioned on administrative depart, Mr. Waldrop stated. It was not clear on Sunday whether or not the depart was paid.

“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 stated.

One of the professors, Mr. Wood, provided an apology in a statement reported by Inside Higher Ed. He stated that he had rented an “ill-conceived” last-minute costume for a faculty-and-student Halloween costume contest.

“I sincerely apologize and am sorry for doing so, and ask for forgiveness for this error in judgment,” Mr. Wood stated.

One of the opposite professors, Mr. Sharland, additionally apologized in a press release that was reported by Inside Higher Ed.

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

Mr. Wood, Mr. Sharland and Ms. Weldy didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark on Sunday.

On Friday, college students gathered exterior a meeting of the college’s board of trustees, carrying indicators that learn “I don’t pay to employ racists” and “There is no excuse for holding a noose,” as reported by NBC 15 of Mobile.

“We have Black students on campus,” Chante Moore, a scholar, instructed WKRG. “How do you think that makes them feel? Do you care about your students?”

A bunch of scholars posted an online petition calling for the college to fireside the professors, “to demonstrate that racism has no place on our campus and to recommit to establishing a safe place for all who seek education here.”

As of Sunday morning, the petition has practically 2,700 signatures.

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