People wearing blackface seen on UO campus

Campus officials say unclear if people are affiliated with school

FILE -- Entrance of University of Oregon in Eugene. (uoregon.edu)
FILE -- Entrance of University of Oregon in Eugene. (uoregon.edu)

EUGENE, Ore. (KOIN) — Officials at the University of Oregon say they are investigating “an incident involving young people wearing blackface on campus.”

The alleged incident happened on Wednesday night, Dr. R. Kevin Marbury, Interim Vice President for Student Life, said in a letter to students and faculty. He said they aren’t sure if the people in blackface are affiliated with the university.

Last week Dear Campus Community,

The University of Oregon has been made aware of an incident involving young people wearing blackface on campus this evening. The use of blackface is patently offensive and reinforces historically racist stereotypes. While there is no evidence that the individuals who wore blackface are part of the UO community, it has no place in our society or at the UO.

We commend the members of the UO community who have expressed themselves through a series of peaceful demonstrations today that were respectful of other members of our community. In addition, the students who witnessed this incident, showed great maturity and judgment in their reaction to it.

The incident has been reported to Student Life and the UOPD, which has doubled their patrols on campus this evening. The UO is committed to fostering a campus culture that values diversity, equity, and inclusion. We continue to be focused on supporting our students and providing a welcoming, safe, and respectful environment.

Sincerely,
Dr. R. Kevin Marbury
Interim Vice President for Student Life

Sophomore Zoie Gilpin was on her home from a Black Student Union Meeting Wednesday when she saw it.

“I saw 4 kids and 3 of them were painting themselves black and one of them was just laughing about it kind of excessively,” Gilpin said. “I asked him if thought that was funny and he said yeah.”

She said they looked too young to be in college but old enough to know this isn’t right.

“I didn’t know what to do. And then it was just completely disheartening. It broke my heart,” Gilpin said. “After I walked away from them I was brought to tears.”

Last month, a UO faculty member of the school of law wore blackface at a Halloween party attended by both faculty members and students. University officials called the use of blackface by the professor a “stupid act” and said it was “in no way defensible.”

University officials tell me they are very sure the people involved are not students, so there isn’t much they can do as far as disciplinary action,but they want this to be a learning experience for the entire campus.

“It’s troubling,” Marbury said. “It’s troubling that in 2016 we’re still talking about things like this. But the reality of it is, we are.”