Stupid and offensive Halloween costume & response from Law & Schill

10/31/2019: A Halloween reminder:

11/3/2016 update: 23 Angry Law Professors:


11/2/2016 update: Law Dean writes alumni condeming professor and racism and bigotry, then suspends her from teaching. KEZI posts professor’s explanation and apology. It seems she is not a racist or a bigot – quite the contrary:

The KEZI report is here:

“I chose my costume based on a book that I read and liked—Black Man in a White Coat.  I thought I would be able to teach with this costume as well (or at least tell an interesting story).  When I asked my daughter who is at Brown Medical School the demographics of her medical school class, she said “they do not give those statistics out mom”, but later when she asked the administration, they said there was _not one black male _student in the class. She and others were outraged. She was able to get the administration to assign a portion of this book (the one where the black medical student was thought to be the janitor) out to students.

I am sorry if it did not come off well.  I, of all people, would not want to offend.

Prof. Shurtz”

Dean Michael Moffit’s email to Law School Alumni. He’s opposed to bigotry and racism, for “the safety of all concerned”, and confused about taking time to learn the facts before suspending a professor:

From: University of Oregon School of Law <[email protected]>
Sent: Wednesday, November 2, 2016 3:02 PM

Subject: Message from the Dean

November 2, 2016

Dear Oregon Law Alumni and Friends,

With great frustration about the circumstances that compel me to do so, I write to share with you a message that went out late last night from the President, the Provost, the Vice President of Equity and Inclusion, and me.

As you will read, a University of Oregon School of Law faculty member wore a Halloween costume that included blackface at a private, off-campus party attended by UO faculty members and students. This matter has been turned over to the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity.

This action demonstrated racial insensitivity in a way that is inconsistent with our school’s values, and wholly unacceptable for this institution. We will follow the university’s processes for determining whether the act violated university rules. We obviously don’t know the outcome of that process and it would be inappropriate to speculate. In order to ensure the safety of all concerned and the smooth operation of the law school, I have placed the faculty member responsible on administrative leave pending resolution of the AAEO process.

As dean, I expect all members of the UO School of Law community to provide a welcoming, diverse and inclusive environment at all times. To be clear: We will not tolerate any form of bigotry or racism. Ever.

I have already heard from a number of you, and I am grateful for your feedback. If you would like to reach out to me directly, I would welcome hearing from you.


Michael Moffitt
Philip H. Knight Chair in Law
University of Oregon School of Law

Law School

11/1/2016 update: From what I’ve learned so far the professor in blackface was trying – albeit awkwardly and unintentionally offensively – to honor the author of “Black Man in a White Coat”. The NYT review:

… As a medical student at Duke, he feels underprepared among the privileged graduates of fancy schools like Harvard and Yale. (He attended the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.) On a scholarship for black students, he frets about being written off as a product of affirmative action.

In one chilling incident, a professor mistakes him for the handyman come to change the classroom light bulbs. Rather than making a fuss, Dr. Tweedy triumphs by earning the second-highest grade on the final exam and then declining the startled teacher’s offer of a job.

Such incidents of overt racism are rare, at least among the professionals Dr. Tweedy works with, but a lot of prejudice is flying around. Some patients flatly declare that they don’t like black doctors; even a black patient once snaps that he doesn’t want to be treated by a “country-ass doctor.” Dr. Tweedy feels annoyed at the uneducated black patients who sabotage their health and then feels irritated at himself for his annoyance. …

Good intentions gone awry.

11/1/2016: Maybe some enterprising reporter will now make a public records request for details on the various investigations and consultants reports on how Ms Daugherty has run UO’s Affirmative Action office, and ask how the UO administration has responded. Meanwhile here’s tonight’s email to campus from President Schill:

Students, Faculty, and Staff,

The University of Oregon has been made aware that a faculty member of the School of Law wore a costume that included blackface at a private, off-campus Halloween party that was attended by UO faculty members and students.

We condemn this action unequivocally as anathema to the University of Oregon’s cherished values of racial diversity and inclusion. The use of blackface, even in jest at a Halloween party, is patently offensive and reinforces historically racist stereotypes. It was a stupid act and is in no way defensible.

The faculty member involved has apologized for the decision and has expressed concern about its potential impact on members of the community. Although the party occurred outside of the faculty member’s official duties, the professor acknowledges that the costume choice was unacceptable under any circumstances.

We take seriously any complaints from members of our community, and we have referred this complaint to the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity, which will determine whether this action could constitute a violation of university policy.

At a minimum, it illustrates the need for more training and dialogue on these critical issues. In support of this dialogue, the Division of Equity and Inclusion created a UO African American Workshop and Lecture Series to help increase understanding. Implicit bias training is now required for all faculty searches and this winter new trainings on micro-aggressions will be offered. We will continue to assess other trainings or opportunities we can employ to further educate our community.

Bigotry and racism have no place in our society or at the UO. Providing a welcoming, diverse, and inclusive environment for all is one of the university’s top priorities. We have been working for more than a year with our students to further these objectives. This incident makes us even more determined to ensure that no member of the UO community feels isolated or alienated on this campus as a result of intentional or unintentional racist behavior.


Michael H. Schill, President and Professor of Law         

Scott Coltrane, Provost and Senior Vice President                                                          

Yvette Alex Assensoh, Vice President for Equity and Inclusion                                    

Michael Moffitt, Dean, School of Law

UO lawyers’ defense against native-american prof’s lawsuit? It’s not discrimination – our Affirmative Action office treats *all* faculty with contempt


Among the years of reports, last summer Daily Emerald reporter Max Thornberry had this about this famously mismanaged office, here. A snippet:

Concerns about the timeliness and effectiveness of the AAEO office [aren’t] new. A 2014 report from the ombuds office found that, “classified staff report high levels of distrust…in the fairness, competence and responsiveness of the University’s AA/EO function.”

And in their motion for a summary dismissal of Chixapkaid Pavel’s lawsuit against SVPAA Doug Blandy and former AAEO Director Penny Daugherty and others, UO’s lawyers have decided to run with that, here:


I’m no law professor, so I have nothing to say about the likely success of this argument by Amanda Walkup and Alexandra Hilsher of Eugene’s Hershner Hunter law firm, except that it seems a bit odd to try and use something like this to persuade the Honorable Ann Aiken to dismiss the case, unless you think there’s a pretty high probability she’ll take it as true despite that weasley footnote.

Another aspect of UO’s motion also seems problematic:

Unfortunately Exhibit H isn’t in the docket, since UO submitted it under a protective order. However, a quick glance through the Bias Response Team documents that UO’s Public Records Office submitted to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, here, will reveal at least one recent informal complaint that was submitted to AAEO and led to a full and expensive AAEO investigation and the potential for serious discipline – although the GCO eventually told AAEO to drop it and exonerated the professor.

5/12/2016: Professor Chixapkaid Pavel files suit against UO, Penny Daugherty, etc

Docket here, full complaint here.

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 11.17.49 AM Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 11.18.27 AM Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 11.18.47 AM

Three AAEO Director candidates to give public talks this week

NOTE: Candidate #1 has withdrawn and the Monday sessions are cancelled:

Campus Visits and Public Presentations

Candidates for the AAEO Director position are scheduled for onsite interviews.  The campus community is invited to attend the public presentation of each candidate on the dates provided below.

Presentation Topic: Building and maintaining campus trust in an AAEO office in an ever changing legal landscape

NOTE: This candidate has withdrawn and these sessions are cancelled:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Candidate 1: Gayla D. Thomas-Dabney
Cover letter
Feedback survey to be posted following presentation.

Public Presentation:
May 22 @ 1:30-2:30pm
Knight Library Browsing Room

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Candidate 2: Roberto A. Sanabria
Cover letter
Feedback survey to be posted following presentation.

Public Presentation:
May 23 @ 1:30-2:30pm
EMU 145, Crater Lake South

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Candidate 3: Henry T. Evans
Cover letter
Feedback survey to be posted following presentation.

Public Presentation:
May 24 @ 1:30-2:30pm
Ford Alumni Center Ballroom

No news on investigation of Prof Shurtz for black Doctor costume

12/19/2016 update:

Still no update from the UO administration on Professor Shurtz’s suspension or their investigation of her. Meanwhile FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, has this:

Student Cleared of Baseless Charges from Anti-Lynching Art Display

ROCK HILL, S.C., Dec. 19, 2016—A Winthrop University student was found not responsible for violating two university speech codes after her involvement with a campus anti-lynching art installation. This outcome comes six days after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) wrote to the university president to ask that the charges be dropped.

“The art display was intended to create a conversation on campus about racism and lynching and it did exactly that,” said FIRE Program Officer Sarah McLaughlin. “We are hopeful that the result of this ordeal is more speech, not less, and that those who wish to continue the conversation can do so without their free speech rights being threatened.”

11/7/2016 update: Law School Dean explains blackface legal issues, criticizes Schill as unfair

Also see the open letter to President Schill letter from “Professor R”, in the Emerald here:

…. It is a sad testament to the current state of our “free” speech that even writing this letter seems too risky to pen under my own name. Those that would seek to invalidate my stance based on my race and background commit the same offense they decry — invalidation of whole persons based on race – this logical fallacy was once called ad hominem.

Prof. R
College of Arts and Sciences
University of Oregon


That would be the Dean of the University of Illinois law school, Vikram Amar. In a nutshell, he explains that students have more First Amendment protections than faculty do. On balance he says Professor Schurtz may well still be protected by it, and quite possibly by other law. Read it all, I’ve only posted the ending:

On Academic Freedom, Administrative Fairness, And Blackface

… My second observation is that the First Amendment is not the only potentially relevant legal constraint. Due process (are faculty clearly told what they cannot say so they are not sandbagged?), contract law (tenure is often a contract concept), and state constitutional protections may give public faculty members more latitude than does the First Amendment. And these extra protections may be perfectly appropriate if we do take seriously historical notions of academic freedom.

My last observation is an important one, and that is that critics of Professor Shurtz have themselves erred. President Schill’s quick characterization of Professor Shurtz’s use of blackface as being “in jest” is at odds with her own explanation, and we need remember that there has been no process yet to determine any actual facts. Shurtz’s 23 faculty colleagues assert that her “intentions [don’t] matter.” But whether we are interpreting the First Amendment or deciding whether someone should be required to give up her very livelihood, intent ought clearly to matter a great deal. After all, the reason (correctly identified by those calling for her resignation) that Shurtz’s actions warrant serious scrutiny is that they may undermine her (and the university’s) trust and credibility with students, alumni and the community. But wouldn’t students, alumni and the outside world want to know why she did what she did in deciding how much less they like and trust her and the law school? If she did it to mock African-Americans (or merely “in jest” because she is flippant about race), aren’t they likely to be much more angry and disaffected than if she did it to support the cause of racial equality (like the author in Black Like Me who feigned blackness to document racism), even if her attempt was clumsy, ill-advised and ultimately counterproductive? Again, no process has yet found the full facts (I have no familiarity with Professor Shurtz and am not vouching for her sincerity). But the idea that intent is irrelevant when heavy consequences like resignation are being considered runs counter to most areas of law and moral intuition. And lawyers – especially law professors who are teaching students how to frame arguments — ought to take care to appreciate that.

Update: Administration to start calling faculty to the office. Pres Schill emails campus.

Here at UO our famously incompetent AAEO Director is expected to start her investigation “soon”. Normally she waits until she’s missed a few deadlines and ignored a bunch of emails, then hires a high-priced consultant to cover for her. (See below for the news that UO has already hired an outside law firm for this.)

No word yet on what university policy the professor is alleged to have broken. Certainly not this one, which President Schill reiterated in his “Open Mike” email the Friday before halloween:

Let me ground this conversation in the unequivocal statement that the UO embraces free expression as one of its core principles. It is outlined in the policy on Freedom of Inquiry and Free Speech passed by the University Senate in 2010 and signed by President Richard Lariviere. The policy states the following:

“Free inquiry and free speech are the cornerstones of an academic institution to the creation and transfer of knowledge. Expression of diverse points of view is of the highest importance, not solely for those who present and defend some view but for those who would hear, disagree, and pass judgment on those views. The belief that an opinion is pernicious, false, and in any other way despicable, detestable, offensive, or ‘just wrong’ cannot be grounds for its suppression.”

My own views on free expression are entirely consistent with this strong statement of principle. As the inscription at the EMU Free Speech Plaza states, “Every new opinion, at its starting, is precisely in a minority of one.”

I’m still searching for the policy prohibiting offensive stupidity.

Should you be called into the AAEO office, you should be aware that Penny Daugherty’s job is to defend the UO administration, not you. Additionally, her staff are unfamiliar with the basics of university policies. If they tell you they just want to have a confidential off-the-record conversation with no repercussions, you’ll have to explain their obligations under UO’s mandatory reporting policy – they don’t understand it, or pretend that they don’t. My advice is get a lawyer and record everything. When Doug Park called me in over my “unlawful” decision to get a digital copy of UO’s Presidential archives I brought two, plus David Cecil from UAUO. Very helpful, especially since Park tried to ambush me by bringing Bill Gary from HLGR.

President Schill’s email today (11/7/2016):

Dear members of the University of Oregon community,

Last week was an incredibly difficult time for our university. The decision of law professor Nancy Shurtz to wear blackface at her Halloween party wounded our community, divided us, and exposed fissures that long existed under the surface. It is now my job as the leader of our school to not only help us heal but, more important, to move us to a demonstrably better place. The challenge for all of us is to recognize that the problem is deep and cannot be fixed with a Band-Aid. Instead, real healing, progress, and transformation will take time, persistence, and generosity of spirit.

It is not my role to attempt to discern the motives of Professor Shurtz when she chose her costume last week. Regardless of her intentions, what she did, by her own admission, was wrong. Indeed, one of the things that troubles me most about this incident is that a member of our law faculty in 2016 would not understand that the use of blackface is deeply offensive and an act of racism. As one of our students eloquently wrote to me:

“White America’s conceptions of Black entertainers were shaped by the mocking caricatures that played up the stereotypes of Black people being racially and socially inferior. No matter the intention, blackface is racially insensitive. At this point, there is no reason for anybody to be ignorant of the history of blackface. No one should have to explain why blackface is offensive or derogatory. This is well-documented history.”

University presidents are not supposed to get angry. But right now I feel both mad and more than a little sad. Over the past year, we have worked with our African American students and faculty members to make the UO a place where educational opportunity and excellence are accessible to all. We have taken the name of a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan off one of our buildings; we modestly increased the proportion of African American students in our freshman class; we created new pipeline and outreach programs; we launched a new African American studies cluster-hiring initiative; we created a new African American residential community; and we are planning new scholarship programs and testing the feasibility of a new African American cultural center. We also finalized our IDEAL framework, a plan to put in place a culture, processes, and system to promote diversity and inclusion throughout the entire university. I am excited about our progress, and I am not willing to let last week’s events slow our momentum and growth.

To the contrary, last week’s events suggest that we need to redouble our efforts to combat racism and ignorance on campus. We need to expand our work beyond students and reach our faculty, staff, and administrators. We must help our community comprehend how racist behavior can be baked into our society so deeply that some of us don’t even recognize it. And we must take actions to transform ourselves and make this school a better place.

My first instinct when faced with a problem is to dive in and fix it. But I have to admit, like my counterparts at most American universities, I know of no silver bullet. I do know that I, along with our entire academic leadership, will need to consult with our students and faculty members of color to understand their experiences and hear their ideas. Provost Coltrane and I will ask each dean and vice president to immediately begin conversations within their schools and departments with our faculty members, students, and staff members of color. The IDEAL plan calls on each school to develop plans on an annual basis. I will ask that each school and administrative unit accelerate the process and report back to me in 90 days with a set of steps they plan to take to promote diversity, combat racism in their units, and promote inclusion. I will work with the provost and our Division of Equity and Inclusion to ensure that these steps are taken and their impacts are measured.

With respect to the immediate issue of Professor Shurtz, as I announced last Monday, I have referred the matter to our Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity. That unit, which will be assisted by an outside law firm, will make a determination as to whether Professor Shurtz or anyone else violated any law or university policy. During the pendency of that process, the dean of the School of Law has placed Professor Shurtz on administrative leave to permit the law school’s educational mission to move forward.

We will provide Professor Shurtz with all of the procedural rights she is entitled to under the law and university policy. We cannot and should not prejudge that process and speculate about the outcome. And even as we condemn the use of blackface, we must consider that these actions may be protected by the First Amendment and our university’s tradition of academic freedom. While many of us feel that what Professor Shurtz has done is wrong, I also would ask that you leave space in your hearts, words, and actions for forgiveness and compassion. Although we all must be held accountable for our actions, I would also hope that we would ultimately be judged for what we do on our best days as well as our worst.

Finally, I am aware that some members of our community have received communications that are hateful, racist, and make them feel unsafe. I have read some of them and they sicken me. I have consulted with UO police chief Matt Carmichael, and we have not been able to find any credible evidence that they emanate from members of our university community. Nevertheless, I have asked the chief to deploy additional personnel both to the investigatory process and to ensuring that every member of our community is physically safe.

As we deal with this horrible episode, I ask everyone to take a deep breath and think about how their actions affect other members of the community. This is a time for us to come together to fight ignorance and racism, to promote inclusion. It is not a time to hurt each other, settle scores, or compromise our cherished values of free expression. This is a time for us to come together to make progress and not a time for us to be divided. We must support each other and treat each other with respect. We must give people the room to express their opinions and feelings, even if we disagree with them. We must not shy away from hard conversations or ugly truths, but we will not tolerate hate speech or threats—period. As president, I pledge that UO leaders will do everything we can to provide a safe and supportive campus environment for that to happen.

So let’s agree today that we, as a community, are going to use this challenging time as an opportunity to unite behind shared values and a common goal of fighting bigotry and ending prejudice on our campus and in our nation. Let’s agree that one person’s actions do not define the University of Oregon or the progress we are making toward becoming a more welcoming, diverse, and inclusive institution. By uniting as a community, we can move past this moment and become stronger and more resilient.

Thank you.

Michael H. Schill

President and Professor of Law

11/6/2017: University escapes lawsuit damages over halloween blackface suspension:

That would be Auburn University. Frat boys, not a law professor, and it was 2002. My uninformed guess is that if Law School Dean Michael Moffitt doesn’t lift Professor Shurtz’s suspension soon and offer a heartfelt apology UO will pay out at least the $800K the Bowl of Dicks cost us – plus billable hours, of course.


AAEO removes all staff info from website, Resnick in charge, search to start soon

Thanks to a commenter for forwarding this email.

Dear All,

I’m writing to update you about changes and developments in the AAEO office. Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of matters brought to the AAEO office and a corresponding increase in the level of expectation and demand for assistance. This is certainly an indication of the importance of the work handled by AAEO. At the same time this has put pressure on our resources and our capacity to respond. Looking at how the AAEO office will serve the changing needs of campus going forward, it is clear that there is a need to reconfigure and enhance our service model and strategic focus. This will include greater outreach and involvement in support of the needs of our campus community.

Our changing needs require a new direction for the AAEO office. We will be working to address immediate needs and achieve progress on our top priorities. In the coming weeks, I will launch a nationwide search for a new director of the AAEO office. I’m very grateful that Penny Daugherty will be staying with the department. In her new role as a senior investigator, Penny’s deep institutional knowledge and experience will be extremely valuable as we look to grow and enhance our capabilities within the office. We will also be welcoming an additional new investigator, Roni Sue, who brings valuable skills and experience and will serve as a much needed additional resource for the office as it continues to respond to the needs of our campus community.

I will continue working closely with everyone in the AAEO office as we move forward with new focus and direction, and I will keep you updated as developments occur. Sue and I will connect with Judy to ensure the Service Center has appropriate information to respond to inquiries. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.

Best regards,

Nancy Resnick
Chief Human Resources Officer and Associate Vice President
[email protected]

Rumor down at the faculty club is that HR Chief Nancy Resnick is now in charge, and that there will be some long overdue changes in our office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity:

Current website:


Old website:


Professor Hames-García’s Open Letter on blackface

11/4/2016 update: In case you are confused about why this blackface incident was so genuinely disturbing, Michael Hames-García (Professor of Ethnic Studies) has an excellent Open Letter to Pres Schill (and us all) in the Daily Emerald. Read it all, here is an excerpt:

… Part of the problem with blackface is that white people don’t know why it’s a problem. It’s impossible to understand why black people are so angered by its use unless one knows what it is that black people see when they see white people in blackface. From the perspective of the harm done, it doesn’t matter what the white person’s intention was.

Nothing about the history of what white people have done to black people and other people of color is shocking to people of color. We know that white people hung, burned alive and dismembered not hundreds, but thousands of black men and women, indigenous men and women, Mexican men and women, Chinese and Japanese men and women, and others for well over a hundred years. We know it was done with impunity. We know it was done publicly. We know they took genitalia from lynched men and women and collected them as souvenirs. We know they posed for pictures and made postcards to commemorate the events. We know that blackface and other racial impersonations were forms of entertainment for white people that were part of a larger dehumanizing process that made lynching possible. We know that these impersonations never honored us.

Unfortunately, many white people don’t know these things. They come to college and take a class about who-knows-what to fulfill a multicultural requirement and come away singing “Kumbaya” and decide to have a “Mexican gangster” or “pimps and hos” party at their sorority and don’t know why people of color are so sensitive about it.

The possibility that Shurtz’s act was done with no deliberate racist intent to harm makes it worse in my view. It confirms everything I suspect and fear daily about the ignorance and callous disregard for black humanity among my colleagues and students. It makes me less likely to trust my white colleagues. It makes me dislike them. In that sense, you need to understand that Shurtz has injured you.

At the same time, I am taken aback by the University’s swift suspension of Shurtz. I don’t know if the suspension happened in consultation with her, and I understand that the University has stated that this was not a disciplinary action.

Let me be clear. Shurtz is not a young, uninformed undergraduate. She has been a professor almost as long as I’ve been alive. She grew up during the civil rights movement. I find it very hard to accept any protestation of ignorance or statement of good intent from her. Do I find Shurtz’s behavior to be vile? Emphatically. Do I buy her protestations of goodwill? By no means. Do I join my Law School colleagues in calling for her to resign? With gusto. Her resignation would be the best, most productive action she could take, sparing the University, our students and her colleagues further trauma and embarrassment.

However, I fear there is a risk of scapegoating, with the effect that Shurtz is punished for the sins of many and outrage over her behavior evades discussion about what is, unfortunately, a common practice in U.S. society. This is the “bad apple” phenomenon that one sees in discussions of police shootings: You deal with the bad apple and pretend that the barrel isn’t rotten. …

Professor Hames-Garcia also wrote one of the most courageous statements I saw come out of attempted cover-up of the basketball rape allegations, here. He’s got a gift for turning disastrous events at UO into teachable moments. That said I disagree with his call for Shurtz to resign.

11/3/2016 updates: UO faculty union & Chicago Law’s Leiter weigh in, professor issues statement

The Faculty Union Exec Council has released a statement condemning the use of blackface, supporting the professor’s right to due process, and pointedly *not* demanding a resignation. Noted University of Chicago Law Professor Brian Leiter has ripped into those 23 UO law faculty (the law school is not part of the union) who called for the professor to resign. And the professor who put on the blackface has explained why. All below, starting with Leiter:

UPDATE:  Now 23 of the professor’s colleagues have called on the faculty member to resign if the allegations are true.  That reflects poorly on them, and suggests they have no regard for  contractual and constitutional rights to academic freedom, including the right to engage in racially insensitive extramural speech.  Absent a finding that the professor treats students or colleagues in racially discriminatory ways, there is no reason for the faculty member to resign (apologizing might be a good idea though!).

The Union:

Dear Colleagues,

The Executive Council of United Academics condemns the use of blackface as inherently racist. We find such actions anathema to our aspirations for a just community at the University of Oregon. We furthermore believe all faculty, in our bargaining unit or not, are entitled to a fair hearing and hope that any actions – including any suspension from duties – in response to allegations of misconduct or unethical behavior will be undertaken according to established procedures of due process and, under our CBA, with just cause.  We object to any administrative actions that violate these rights.

Like many, we do not have details or a full understanding of the recent incident, but regardless, the use of blackface evokes America’s racist history in a way that understandably offends and harms many in our community. When a white person puts on blackface, they invoke a history of brutality against black bodies as though the white person were putting on black skin for entertainment. The revulsion in this is found across a spectrum of racially discriminatory and violent actions, from the many racist media stereotypes of people of color to the horror of lynchings. For someone to evoke this history without being corrected by others is a collective harm that degrades all of us. Such actions damage the trust, respect, and safety we seek in a diverse community regardless of how they may have been intended….

The professor has also made a statement to the RG:

“During a Halloween party I hosted at my house, I wore a costume inspired by a book I highly admire, Dr. Damon Tweedy’s memoir, ‘Black Man in a White Coat.’ I intended to provoke a thoughtful discussion on racism in our society, in our educational institutions and in our professions. As part of my costume, I applied black makeup to my face and wore a white coat and stethoscope.

“In retrospect, my decision to wear black make up was wrong. It provoked a discussion of racism, but not as I intended. I am sorry for the resultant hurt and anger inspired by this event. It is cruelly ironic that this regrettable episode began with my admiration for a book that explores important aspects of race relations in our society, but ended up creating toxic feelings within our community. I intended to create a conversation about inequity, racism and our white blindness to them. Regrettably, I became an example of it. This has been a remarkable learning experience for me.

“I hope that all who are hurt or angered by my costume will accept my apology. I meant no harm to them or others.

“Out of respect for all involved, I will make no further comments to the media until the University’s investigation is completed.”

11/4/2016: More on blackfaced professor and Dean Moffitt’s decisions:

I’m still rummaging around for the law school letter criticizing Dean Moffitt’s past management. Meanwhile,

The RG Editorial Board:

… UO President Michael Schill responded quickly and forcefully. Law school colleagues and others have signed letters and petitions calling for the professor’s resignation. Schurtz has been placed on administrative leave, and the UO Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity is investigating.

Lesser reactions would condone offensive actions and imagery, and invite worse ones. But what the UO needs is not one fewer law professor, but more understanding. Shurtz’s experience offers an opportunity to explore the lines between self-expression and hurtful messaging, between cluelessness and consideration, between privilege and vulnerability. A university exists to teach students how to think, not what to think — and here’s a chance to do just that.

And, from Scott Jaschik in IHE:

… “It doesn’t matter what your intentions were. It doesn’t matter if it was protected by the First Amendment,” the letter says. “Blackface is patently offensive. It is overtly racist. It is wildly inappropriate. It reflects a profound lack of judgment. There is no excuse. We are angry that you would alienate our students, staff and faculty of color. We are angry that you would destroy what others have worked hard to build …. If you care about your students, you will resign.”

If Shurtz does not resign, some legal experts believe her actions — however foolish — are in fact protected by the First Amendment.

“Simply dressing in blackface or as an African-American at a party is indeed constitutionally protected expression that UO, a government agency, cannot punish,” said Robert L. Shibley, executive director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

He cited a 1993 decision by a federal appeals court to block George Mason University from punishing a fraternity that held “an ugly woman contest” fund-raiser in which some fraternity members posed as caricatures of black women. The appeals court found that this event, however offensive, was protected by the First Amendment. “If such a skit is protected expression, this professor’s expression surely is as well,” Shibley said.

John K. Wilson, an independent scholar who writes regularly about academic freedom issues, agreed. Via email, he said, “When dealing with an extramural activity, there’s generally no valid punishment unless it shows incompetence in doing their work. That obviously doesn’t apply in this case. There’s no reason why wearing an offensive costume makes you a bad law professor.”

Michael Dreiling is a professor of sociology at Oregon who is president of United Academics, the faculty union at the university, an affiliate of the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers. Via email, he said, “Blackfacing is not only negligent, but hurtful, regardless of intentions. Even as we condemn blackfacing for the racist history the action evokes, we believe all faculty are entitled to a fair investigation and due process. We hope the university will recognize and respect these important rights in this case.”

Affirmative Action finally tells students where they can report sexual harassment

7/13/2016 update: Reporter Max Thornberry has the report in the Daily Emerald here. A snippet:

Concerns about the timeliness and effectiveness of the AAEO office [aren’t] new. A 2014 report from the ombuds office found that, “classified staff report high levels of distrust…in the fairness, competence and responsiveness of the University’s AA/EO function.”

The ombuds office did not investigate the office itself and only makes notes of patterns of perception, according to the report. Former ombudsman Bruce McAllister did note however that, “perception does not necessarily equate to fact, but patterns are important to the acceptance and long-term efficacy of any particular program.”

Until site reconstruction this week, there was no mention at all of the ombuds office, an integral piece in the murky mandatory reporting debate on college campuses. The ombuds office is one of the few truly confidential outlets for survivors of sexual assault, which is a key part of the debate surrounding mandatory reporting.

6/29/2016 update: Penny Daugherty’s AAEO website finally has been updated with a link to the correct administrator for reporting child abuse. But the link for reporting discrimination and sexual harassment still takes you to a pdf (below) that is years out of date and does not mention the new Title IX Coordinator, Office of Crisis Intervention, etc. Other AAEO pages and links also still describe procedures that are years out of date, and policies that are no longer in effect.

That’s right, the UO office that is responsible for complying with federal laws on discrimination and harassment can’t even point UO students, faculty, and staff to the current UO procedures and policies for complying with those laws. Does anyone except Johnson Hall still have confidence in AAEO Director Penny Daugherty?

6/23/2016 update: Four weeks after I emailed her about it Affirmative Action Director Penny Daugherty’s website still has incorrect info about reporting sexual assault and harassment. Need to report child abuse? Her office will refer you to someone who no longer works at UO.

5/26/2016: AAEO website rife with errors & outdated info for reporting sexual abuse, harassment, assaults

At this point no one should be surprised by the continued incompetence of AAEO Director Penny Daugherty. President Schill’s emergency policy requiring mandatory reporting has been in effect since February 18th. Full policy here. The gist:

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The UO Senate’s SGBV committee has worked for 6 months to develop a permanent version of this policy. The Senate has had three very public debates on the question of mandatory reporting to Ms Daugherty’s  office. It’s been all over the papers. And yet Ms Daugherty’s AAEO website still manages to get the basics all wrong:

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Ms Daugherty’s AAEO office says:

Consistent with its commitment to provide a safe environment for students, faculty and staff, University policy requires that employees who have credible evidence that prohibited discrimination is occurring have a duty to report that information to their supervisor or to the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity.

That’s not true.  Since February, UO policy has said that students should go to the Title IX coordinator or the Office of Crisis Intervention, and not to Ms Daugherty.  Why was this job taken away from her? I don’t know. There have been two external reviews of AAEO in the past year, but UO’s General Counsel will not make them public.

AAEO’s website also says:

Confidentiality for all parties is respected to the extent possible.

That’s deceptive. AAEO’s ability to respect confidentiality is quite limited, and in fact AAEO’s responsibility is to protect the university, not the victims. Here’s the language from the proposed new policy, which was approved by the General Counsel’s office:

Employees should be aware that AAEO is tasked with ensuring compliance with this policy and state and federal law. Therefore, while AAEO will work with employees, students and campus community members to ensure that they understand their complaint options, are protected from retaliation and are provided with interim measures as appropriate, AAEO employees are not advocates for individuals participating in the process.

The UO Ombuds Office is one place that can really guarantee confidentiality. AAEO doesn’t even mention them. And if you follow the prominent links on the AAEO website, the incorrect information just gets worse:

For more information regarding university employee required reporting obligations, including those related to the reporting of child abuse and crimes under the Clery Campus Security Act, please see Summary of Required UO Employee Reporting Responsibilities.

Really. That link starts with this:

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That information is obsolete, wrong, and dangerous. The document is from January 2014, two years before the current emergency policy was put in place. It’s incorrect about where to report sexual harassment directed at students. Do you need to report child abuse? Our Office of AAEO will send you to the email address of someone who no longer works at UO.

OK, maybe the prominent link on the AAEO homepage to this glossy brochure will lead to better information? No, that brochure is also years out of date. As in five:

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OK, try AAEO’s tab for Sexual Harassment and Assault. This will take you to a different version of the AAEO brochure, with different information. Different, but also wrong. As one example, AAEO says that if you have a “facilitated conversation” with them, “the participants retain control over the outcome”:

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No they don’t. AAEO employees are mandatory reporters. So suppose two faculty come to AAEO for a facilitated conversation to talk about some issues in their department. During the conversation, the AAEO facilitator decides that these issues include credible evidence of sexual harassment. Under current UO policy the facilitator would be obligated to report, and perhaps initiate a formal grievance process. This process could easily lead to the alleged harasser learning the identity of the people who had come to AAEO, to have what they had thought would be a conversation in which they could “retain control over the outcome.”

This isn’t just my interpretation, it’s the interpretation of one of AAEO’s own facilitators, who agreed that in this sort of situation it would be better to go to the Ombuds office. So why won’t AAEO say that publicly? I don’t think it’s a conspiracy. It’s just incompetence. Many long years of it.

Daily Emerald reports students like Heroy as new Interim TIXC

2/1/2016: Scott Greenstone has the report in the ODE, here:

“I was really impressed,” Lusby said after Heroy’s appointment last week. Lusby has organized many protests against the administration in the past. “It is a really strong start to getting students involved in taking a role in administration.”

The university is already battling sexual assault on several fronts: Oregon Hall has a crisis and support staff to talk to survivors, UOPD has a detective sergeant who specializes in sexual violence and associate athletic director Lisa Peterson oversees gender equity within Oregon athletics. Heroy will be the person who connects them.

“[I have] the ability to take that 10,000-foot view, rather than being in the weeds all the time, doing the work on the ground,” Heroy said.

1/26/2016: UO hires Penny Daugherty staffer and consultant as interim AVP/TIXC without consulting faculty

This is the position that was created after pressure from Jennifer Freyd and Carol Stabile and the UO Senate, in reaction to the Altman basketball rape allegations and years of problems with UO’s AAEO Director Penny Daugherty. The first botched search was to fill a job titled “Assistant VP for Sexual Assault”. Strangely enough this did not attract as many applicants as JH had expected.

When Pres Schill arrived he renamed the position and the reporting, and rebooted the search, but it was months until three candidates were brought to campus. None were hired. Last month they brought in another. I went to some of the meetings, there were at least 2 very good prospects, but no hire. As the official Around the O post explains, lots of universities are hiring, and it is is very hard to get a qualified person.

So now Darci Heroy has now been given the job as interim. I wish I could say I’m optimistic about Ms Heroy’s chances of making a go at this, even temporarily, but in contrast to the permanent candidates the administration did not consult with the Senate and all I know about her is from what I’ve seen on her consulting website, her history with Daugherty from linkedin, and her report on the sexual assault reforms. None of it is promising.

AVP for Sexual Violence Prevention and Title IX candidates

Apparently none of the first 3 finalists worked out – long delay between job posting and interviews – so candidate #4 will be on campus Monday and Tuesday. I’m not sure if the problematic dual reporting issue has been resolved. Holmes and Moffitt are on the schedule, but not Resnick? Catherine Carroll has extensive experience, resume here:

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Monday, January 4

Noon – 1:00 pm Lunch
1:30 – 2:30 pm Search Committee Interview
Living Learning Center 116
2:30 – 3:30 pm Interview with Dean of Students Office Staff
Health Center Library
4:00 – 5:00 pm Public Presentation – Getting It Right: Overcoming Obstacles and Forging a Campus-wide Response to Sexual Assault
EMU Ballroom; open to faculty, staff and students
5:00 – 5:30 pm Interview with Jamie Moffitt
103 Johnson Hall
5:30 pm Dinner

Tuesday, January 5

Noon – 1:00 pm Faculty and Senate Colleagues (University Senate, committee on sex and gender based violence)
Living Learning Center 116
2:00 – 3:00 pm Campus Colleagues Q&A (AAEO, UOPD, athletics, general counsel staff)
Living Learning Center 116
3:00 – 4:00 pm Student Groups Q&A
Health Center Library
4:15 – 5:00 pm Interview with President Schill, Greg Stripp
110 Johnson Hall
5:00 – 6:00 pm Interview with Robin Holmes
220 Johnson Hall

11/3/2015: Here’s hoping this hire will replace AAEO Director Penny Daugherty ASAP. I’ll post candidate materials as they become available. The President’s website link for this restarted search is here, job description here.

Continue reading

Long overdue VPFA office shakeup over AAEO, UOPD, etc

Another positive move by President Schill to address longstanding problems in Johnson Hall. Announcement here:

Organizational Changes in Finance and Administration
December 10, 2015

Dear Colleagues–

I am very pleased to announce a number of changes within the Finance and Administration (VPFA) portfolio, all of which are aimed at improving service to our campus constituents and increasing opportunities for strategic planning and synergy. These changes are effective Monday, December 14. View the new VPFA organizational chart. Here are the highlights:

André Le Duc has been promoted to Chief Resilience Officer and Associate Vice President (AVP). The UO Police Department has been added to his portfolio, rounding out the safety and risk services area, which continues to include the areas of Emergency Management and Continuity, Fire Prevention, Risk Management, and Environmental Health and Safety.

André will also head up a new administrative services area, composed of Purchasing and Contracting Services, Printing and Mailing Services, and the Campus Geographic Information Systems (GIS) unit.
Nancy Resnick, the University’s Chief Human Resources Officer, will have responsibility for an expanded portfolio. Going forward in addition to the Human Resources department, her portfolio will include the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity, as well as the Retirement Plans Management unit, which administers the five retirement plans used by all former OUS institutions.

As was announced in September, a search is underway for our new AVP for Campus Planning and Facilities Management to oversee the units currently comprising Campus Operations, Campus Planning, Design and Construction, and the Office of Sustainability. We look forward to visits in early January from our top candidates. Note that until the new AVP is in place, these units’ organizational structures will remain as-is.

Kassy Fisher will now serve permanently as Chief of Staff, a role she took on temporarily in July.
I will continue to directly oversee and work closely with our financial team, Kelly Wolf, University Controller and AVP of Business Affairs, and the directors of Budget and Resource Planning and Institutional Research.

I am excited about what I believe is a leadership structure that fosters integration and builds upon the strengths of our team.


Jamie Moffitt
Vice President for Finance and Administration/CFO

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Doug Park brings still more embarassment to UO

10/24/2015 update: From the Ornstein stories in the Chronicle and ProPublica:

“I don’t blame the University of Oregon for a rape,” she said. “It’s not their fault. I blame them for how they responded to it. I found out months later that every single meeting I had with a therapist, she took detailed notes on, and the University of Oregon had read these notes before I had even seen them.”

And now there’s a Slate op-ed about the reports, here

Viewing medical records for medical reasons could help a university protect a student at risk of harm. But the University of Oregon’s meddling into Hanson’s private account of her rape would have only helped the university protect itself. The value of therapy lies in the patient’s expectation of confidentiality; if a student thinks her private exchanges with a doctor could resurface in the office of a university administrator, helping her heal will be much harder. A therapist’s office can be one of the only safe spaces available to a rape survivor on a college campus. Exploiting that trust to try to avoid paying a legal settlement is a cynical maneuver that can only exacerbate an already-low rape reporting rate.

The Jane Doe records seizure happened on Doug Park and Sam Hill’s watch. The Hanson incident apparently took place while Randy Geller was GC. I think the correct phrase here is “institutional betrayal”.

10/23/2015: Chronicle and ProPublica report on UO counseling record confidentiality

Reporting by Charles Ornstein, here. He picks up on the report first made in the Eugene Weekly in May by Camilla Mortensen, below. (Without citing her – wow is that bad form.)

Ornstein gets Doug Park to offer a complete and utter apology for the UO General Counsel Office’s behavior in these two cases:

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UO hires Darci Heroy to help Penny Daugherty with her Title IX issues

That’s got to be a tough job, given Ms Daugherty’s famous incompetence. I wonder how much experience Heroy has, and how much we’re paying her. Here’s the blurb from the Amitrius Coaching and Consulting website:

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Here’s Ms Heroy’s report on what UO is doing to reduce sexual assaults. Accomplishment #1? Hire Ms Heroy to consult. The rest of it the usual consultant stuff, padded out with appendices.

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20 days after request, Doug Park produces Burnside AAEO contract


Full doc here. This is far short of the full investigation of Penny Daugherty’s operation of this office that is needed. Presumably the Senate will now have to vote for the administration to do this properly.

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7/15/2015: UO uncertain if it has public records on AA investigator Burnside

Dear Mr. Harbaugh: 

The University of Oregon, Office of Public Records has received your public records request for “a copy of the contract (or charge or other public records describing the scope of work and payment terms) between UO (or UO’s law firm or other representative) and Rebecca Burnside (or her firm) for an investigation of UO’s Affirmative Action office”, on 07/10/2015, attached. The university is uncertain whether it possesses the records you have requested.  However, the university will search for the records and make a response to your request as soon as practicable. …

Lisa Thornton

Office of Public Records
University of Oregon

Office of the President

This seems a little weird. Nice of them to keep looking though. There must be something in someone’s email, even if they are running the contract through a law firm.

7/10/2015: Will Rebecca Burnside’s AAEO investigation be real, or a whitewash?

Given the troubled history of UO’s “independent investigations” it’s a reasonable question. So let’s ask Doug Park for records showing just what it is that he charged her to do:

Subject: Public records request, AAEO investigation
Date: July 10, 2015 at 3:51:27 PM PDT
To: Lisa Thornton <[email protected]> Cc: Doug Park <[email protected]>

Dear Ms Thornton –

This is a public records request for a copy of the contract (or charge or other public records describing the scope of work and payment terms) between UO (or UO’s law firm or other representative) and Rebecca Burnside (or her firm) for an investigation of UO’s Affirmative Action office.

I ask for a fee waiver on the basis of public interest.

I’m ccing Interim GC Doug Park, as he should have these documents easily at hand.

Update: Investigator asks UO employees for info on affirmative action problems

From a comment by “employees only”:

I’ve learned that Rebecca Burnside has been contracted to conduct an investigation of the affirmative action department. After stating that she would like to cast as wide a net as possible, she later clarified that she will not look into student-related matters. Still, she has expressed interest in speaking to as many employees as possible who may have information for her report. To that end, she can be reached at [email protected]. I’ve heard that her request is to spread the word, please!

Rebecca Burnside is an attorney and HR consultant, website here. Still waiting for the official “Around the 0” announcement.

7/9/2015: UO starts investigation of affirmative action office problems

That’s the rumor down at the faculty club breakfast table. Given AAEO Director Penny Daugherty’s famously incompetent management, this is hardly a surprise. Presumably there will be an announcement from the UO administration soon – I think AAEO reports to VPFA Jamie Moffitt.