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Law Dean Burke does Q&A with students about Prof Shurtz

In an admirable demonstration of transparency she even had the Law School post it on their official twitter feed – although no photo of the wickedly funny (black) student who showed up in whiteface. This is in reverse chronological order, so start at the bottom.

  1. There is a curriculum committee that discusses all courses offered. Apologies, but there is a class in this room right now. I hear you, and thank you, all.

  2. Comment from Student: A lot of our frustrations are with Prof. Shurtz, who isn’t even here. Precedent in this matter doesn’t set a clear path for preventing a similar incident in the future, (return to faculty, take sabbatical, etc.).

  3. Res. : We could have had this conversation before Spring Break, but I wanted it now. It wasn’t clear from the agenda that this was the opportunity to talk about Prof. Shurtz coming back to teach class. Thank you to the UOLaw SBA, BLSA for getting the word out

  4. Comment from Student (3L in Portland, Pres. BLSA): The administration did not contact the Black Law Students Association after receiving 30 emails last year about this incident from the Dean.

  5. Comment from Student: What does diversity and inclusion mean to this law school community when the professor may not even understand the ramifications of her actions?

  6. Comment from Student: This professor is not held accountable to students. She isn’t here and should be here.

  7. Comment from Student: It’s not just that she’s coming back. It’s that she’s teaching a class that I would have to set aside my identity to attend.

  8. “I agree with about 93% of what you’ve said. The time is now,” Training for professors is part of our Diversity Action Plan and starts this summer. But, there is a lot of work to be done. Most cannot be done overnight, but it is being done.

  9. Statement from Student: I am really disappointed that change is not taking place now. I have had to explain environmental racism to other students and faculty. We need to make change now.

  10. Comment from Student: As a white person (1L), I am not as affected by the action Prof. Shurtz took as my colleagues of color, but I am disgusted by it.

  11. Q4: Please, say what the incident was. A4. “Prof. Shurtz wore blackface at a party in her home.” Questioner: The decision to apply makeup and a wig takes time and intention and planning. Others can intervene.

  12. A3: I am familiar with the opinions Prof. Shurtz has made in the press.

  13. Q3: Has Prof. Shurtz been educated about the difference between Blackface and cultural appropriation?

  14. Q2. How informed about the climate at was before coming here? (And how do you get sabbatical? I’d like one.)

  15. A1. The decision predates me and was made by the Provost before Prov. Banavar. What students have told me is that we () are more than 1 incident.

  16. Q1: You mentioned things about what defines Oregon Law, maybe to US News or law firms, but you also mentioned community. Does having [Prof. Shurtz] back in the classroom defining our community in a way we want?

  17. It defines us by the decisions we make, by the community we are, by what we choose to do. So, yes. It is a defining moment, and I look forward to working with you as we continue to define who we are as OregonLaw. —

  18. “Some of you might feel like not announcing [Prof. Shurtz’s return] was like sweeping it under the rug… Since that day, there is no sweeping it under the rug.”

  19. Dean discusses her decision to come to . “People are talking about the students, faculty, and staff and the great things we do in the world.” I came here knowing there was an ugly incident, too, but it did not stop me from wanting to be your Dean.

  20. “Imagine a world where we all looked the same. That would be a tragedy. “I know our school has gone through some tough challenges, and I look forward to learning more about it. “I want to be there to support , to support you, and to work together as a family.”

  21. “I have been told that we are much more than a traditional Law School, with more than a JD and LLM. We also have a Master’s degree program and an undergraduate program.” Within the context of a big research university, it means we can address the complexity of our world.

  22. Welcome to Provost Jayanth Banavar. “My job is really to champion your interests, to help you… and to do whatever I can to make things better for you.”

  23. The agenda was strategic plan, diversity plan, school climate and Q&A, but we’re changing that up due to student feedback. –

  24. Today’s is set to begin. Thanks, all for coming out!


  1. UO Community Member 04/11/2018

    And to think that some of these students will be defending murderers, rapists or paedophiles in a few years time.

    • uomatters Post author | 04/11/2018

      Sorry, but what’s your point?

      • UO Community Member 04/11/2018

        The real world is very different from academia. To think that people are still upset, and even, outraged about this nearly 1.5 year old event, yet much darker and more tragic sh*t happens in this State every day. The irony is that the same students that are outraged about this unfortunate matter may very well be defending some of this state’s biggest scumbags in a few years time.

        • uomatters Post author | 04/11/2018

          Sorry, I still don’t understand. Are you saying that law students should respond to this ugly situation by taking a principled stand against everything their professors and classmates are saying and speak up in front of them all to defend Prof Shurtz’s right to wear blackface at her Halloween party in an attempt to make a point about racism in the medical profession?

          While I might admire such a student, I think most of our state’s scumbags would rather hire a lawyer with less principles and more understanding of best responses, and I’m guessing our law students get that.

          • CSN 04/12/2018

            My interpretation of UOCN’s point (without agreeing with):

            1. These students are protesting a relatively minor, old thing (the blackface incident).

            2. As law students, these people will soon become lawyers.

            3. In their future careers, these lawyers will likely work to defend people who have committed far worse offenses (murder, rape, etc.).

            4. Therefore the protest today is silly and hypocritical.

            It’s a sort of guilt-by-future-career-projection-association argument. To which I ask: do you really think that the people protesting this today are those who are most likely to become criminal defense attorneys?

  2. There is no Dog 04/11/2018

    On the one hand, this is so ridiculous that I want to ask if it’s satire.

    On the other hand, looking at her CV, she must be almost as old as Justice Ginsberg. It was a different era–maybe just chalk her up as a dottie senior citizen and cut her a little slack? Has she done the requisite mea culpa?

    • uomatters Post author | 04/11/2018

      Your ageism comment is stupid and offensive. I would have deleted it except that everything about Prof Shurtz’s actions and the response by students, faculty, the former dean, and JH administrators was stupid and offensive too.

      While the administration said that there had been no formal discipline – which would raise academic freedom issues – Dean Burke’s comments suggest that some sort of re-education camp was required and completed before she was allowed to resume teaching.

      • There is no Dog 04/12/2018

        My snarky tone may well be inappropriate, but I do sincerely think that simply cutting people slack would be a pretty good solution to a lot of issues like this. What ever happened to a good, old-fashioned rolling ones eyes and moving on? Everything is bloodsport these days…

      • There is no Dog 04/14/2018

        After having read more about this incident, I’ll offer a mea culpa for assuming that Shurtz had done something offensive because she was old and/or a bit out of it. In fact, it appears that she did nothing wrong at all, other than perhaps choosing the wrong doctor to admire.

        I’m definitely rolling my eyes at the PC police who are preying on her, however. I admire Shurtz for standing up to this–honestly, I’d just quit.

  3. There is no Dog 04/12/2018

    Out of curiosity, what would you suggest as a solution here? (in terms of actions that Shurtz, the University, and students could take)

    • honest Uncle Bernie 04/14/2018

      Here’s a modest proposal: in order to help the healing process at UO Law, which obviously has been terribly traumatized by this, why not bring Penn Law Professor Amy Wax, much in the news lately, to give the next Wayne Morse lecture?

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