Racially offensive photos resurface from Halloween Party

By: Ebonee Burrell | Editor in Chief

South Alabama responded to controversial photos posted on social media that included three USA administrators in the Mitchell College of Business, two posing with a noose and whip and one dressed as a confederate general. 

The photos were uploaded back in October 2014 after a Halloween party on campus and recently reappeared on the internet, causing a lot of concern from students.

“As a general rule, any article of clothing, object or symbol that reflects oppression, war, or terror should not be the butt of any joke or costume,” said senior Chanel Ray. “I believe the university should always take serious actions against any student or faculty member that partakes in any racist action.”

(LEFT: Bob Wood dressed as confederate general. RIGHT: Alex Sharland and Teresa Weldy showcasing a whip and noose)

Members of the USA Faculty Senate issued a statement to The Vanguard in regards to the disturbing photos. 

“The officers of the USA Faculty Senate condemn the values on display in those photos and stand with our Black colleagues, staff, and students in the continuing struggle to make our university better reflect the ideals of democratic inclusion.

In our classrooms, in our offices, in our labs, libraries, and hospitals, inclusion is essential to the mission of our university. Our diverse student population is one of our university’s greatest strengths, and we succeed only when we help every student to reach their full potential.

The university’s handling of this incident is disturbing and must be addressed, but right now, we want you, our students, to know that the faculty senate will continue to work towards ensuring a safe, diverse, and inclusive community, and we will not tolerate racism or bigotry of any kind from administrators, from faculty, from students, staff or anyone else.”

President Waldrop released a statement condemning the photos, that were brought to the university’s attention back in 2020, and that said the previous response should have been more effective. 

“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.”

As a result, Waldrop asked the university community to help decide on how the university should move forward with this incident. Within the next 30 days, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Paul Frazier will be accepting ideas from students, faculty, and staff to develop a clear path forward. Dr. Frazier can be reached at pfrazier@southalabama.edu.