Three professors at the University of South Alabama have been placed on leave after controversial Halloween photos of them resurfaced on social media.
This came after over 2000 people signed a petition calling for Professors Bob Wood, Alex Sharland and Teresa Weldy to be fired over 2014 photos of them at an on-campus party wearing and holding what the petition refers to as ” blatantly racist symbols of hatred and violence towards the African-American community. ”
The photographs were publicly posted on the college’s Facebook from 2014 until they were removed in 2020.
The photos showed then-Dean of the Mitchell College of Business and current finance professor Bob Wood dressed in a Confederate soldier’s uniform, while professors Alex Sharland and Teresa Weldy posed with a whip and noose.
The petition stated, “the fact that these professors are still currently employed by the University shows a deep failure to commit to a safe, welcoming environment for students of all backgrounds.”
The University President Tony Waldrop acknowledged that they failed in their initial response to the photos. Waldrop said;
“The actions taken in response to these pictures, which were brought to the attention of University leadership in 2020, should have been stronger and broader, and should have more clearly demonstrated our unwavering commitment to a safe and welcoming environment for every member of our community.
“We acknowledge that, in our response to this incident, we failed in our obligations and responsibilities to our students, our employees and our community. For this, we are deeply sorry to everyone who is rightfully hurt and offended by these images.”
In a post on Inside Higher Ed, both Wood and Sharland apologized for their actions. They said;
“Seven years ago, I rented and wore a last-minute costume that was ill-conceived to a faculty and student Halloween costume contest, at which I served on a panel of judges to select the winners,” Wood said. “I sincerely apologize and am sorry for doing so, and ask for forgiveness for this error in judgment.
“In retrospect I can see why someone might find the image hurtful, and I regret this attempt at humor that clearly failed,” Sharland said. “It was not my intent to hurt or be offensive, and if anyone is offended by this picture I apologize.”