• University of Oregon
    University of Oregon
  • Racial prejudice
    Racial prejudice
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Prof. Shurtz made headlines when, in October 2016, she attended a Halloween party in blackface and wearing an afro wig, which was apparently meant to portray Dr. Damon Tweedy, who wrote an autobiography about the racism he encountered in medical school.[1] A review of the incident commissioned by the University of Oregon found that, though it occurred off-campus, Prof. Shurtz invited all her students in two of her classes to attend, as well as members of the university’s faculty.

Subsequent interviews with the several students in attendance revealed that they felt compelled to attend for the sake of their grades, and that they were afraid to leave for the same reason. The report concluded that, given the totality of the facts, Shurtz’ costume was “substantially disruptive to the educational environment,” and was significant enough to “outweigh Shurtz’s interests in academic freedom and freedom of speech.”[2] Shurtz has since been placed on paid academic leave, but remains part of the faculty.[3]


[1] Collman, A. (Nov. 3, 2016). University of Oregon law professor is suspended after dressing in blackface at a Halloween party. Daily Mail. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3901766/University-Oregon-law-professor-suspended-dressing-blackface-Halloween-party.html

[2] Jaschik, S. (Jan. 3, 2017). Oregon: Professor in Blackface Violated Anti-Harassment Policy. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/01/03/university-oregon-finds-professor-who-wore-blackface-party-violated-anti-harassment

[3] Jaschik, S. (Nov. 7, 2016). Professor who wore blackface at party suspended. Times Higher Education. Retrieved from https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/professor-who-wore-blackface-party-suspended

Associated Organizations:

Early Start (Founder and President, 2000-2014); Asian Women and Children’s Center (co-founder , 1998-2001); Elfreth’s Alley Historical Society of Philedelphia (Treasurer, 1979-1981); Willamette Institute of Science and Technology (1984-1986).

Departmental Contact

Marcilynn A. Burke, Dean of the University of Oregon Law School

Contact email


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