The U.S. of South Alabama resolves complaints about faculty costumes

The University of South Alabama has resolved a complaint about two uniforms worn by a dean (who has since become a faculty member) and another member of the faculty that annoyed many on campus.

The Halloween party at the business school took place in 2014, but pictures of it were published last year.

The then Dean, Bob Wood, came after the Confederate soldier’s uniform. She told the university that the dress was “one of the few dresses available in the costume store.” The professor, Alex Sherland, “came wearing a black dress with a white barrister’s wig worn by British judges. He carried a loop and a whip as a props, which he said was meant to portray British George Jeffries. The 17th century ‘hanging judge’.” The university said in a statement on the outcome of the two cases.

In Wood’s case, the university said: “Dr. Wood has been selected to pursue an informal trial. The plaintiffs’ unanimous conclusion was that Dr. Wood should return to university duties while engaging in the activities described below that are consistent with the principles. A method focused on community recovery. “

The conditions are:

  • “Dr. Wood will submit an official statement to the university community about his role in the event, including an apology for what he has learned, recognition of a clear understanding of the negative impact of his actions, and indicating how he wants diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts going forward. Contribute positively to go.
  • “Dr. Wood will participate in a moderate forum where he will address complainants and participants selected by the university. Nominated participants will have the opportunity to address Dr. Wood about the impact of his actions on them, their colleagues and the organization. Dr. Wood will have the opportunity to respond.
  • “Dr. Wood will not be hired to teach private courses for next year.”
  • “For at least three years, the university will make alternative arrangements for any student who is unwilling to take the classes taught by Dr. Wood because of this incident.”

In his statement, Wood said, “First and foremost, I want my students and colleagues to know how sorry I am that I have hurt people or doubt their commitment to my commitment to be the best person in this university. I apologize to them, to the university, and to the campus community in general. I am sorry that the school will have any negative perceptions because of my work. It is an excellent school, and I am proud of the college and its excellent achievements. “

“I sincerely apologize to everyone. I apologize for this error of judgment. I regret my decision and I understand the harmful nature of these symbols. This choice does not reflect my beliefs in any way, but I must I understand how the university and all of you can think that way… I learned from this mistake আমার my work happened about eight years ago, at a time when many Americans, including me, were not so sensitive about it. . “

Regarding Sherland, the university said that “a diversified committee consisting of two faculty members, two academic administrators and a student selected from the faculty complaints committee pool reviewed the relevant elements and unanimously decided that Dr. Sherland’s conduct was not violated.” [barring discrimination] But there was Still? Unacceptable in the workplace. The proposed bans included an admonition not to repeat behavior and participation in an educational program that addresses discriminatory and harassing behavior. The committee’s recommended ban has been confirmed. “

Because “the matter is now over, Dr. Sherland will return to his university responsibilities,” the university said.

Last year, Sherland apologized for the costume, saying, “In hindsight I can see why someone might find the image harmful, and I’m sorry this attempt at humor has clearly failed. It wasn’t my intention to hurt or offend, and if anyone I’m sorry to see this picture. ‘

‘Absolutely ridiculous’

Aaron Terr, a senior program officer at the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expressions, criticized the way the university handled the incident.

“The decision by the University of South Alabama to investigate allegations that a six-year-old photo of a professor wearing a Halloween costume at a Halloween costume party resurfaced was completely ridiculous,” he said via email. “Some may find the clothing offensive or tasteless, but the United States protects a public university and the First Amendment offensive expression. More needs to be done to meet stricter standards for illegal harassment or discrimination. Punishment makes the case even more serious and shows the folly of punishing speech under the subject of offensive criteria. After all, conventional opinion about which expression is socially acceptable is rarely fixed. Halloween costumes will be banned for five or ten years. Who knows from now on? “

Ter added: “To make matters worse, the university has allowed a professor to admit that his conduct did not violate university policy. Anyone can see how unfair it is. How do students and faculty know what conduct is and what is not? The university is just Is it forbidden to make rules?

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