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University of South Alabama investigation into controversial Halloween costumes nears conclusion

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By BRENDAN KIRBY

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    MOBILE, Alabama (WALA) — With three faculty members still sidelined over pictures that emerged earlier this year of a 7-year-old Halloween party, the University of South Alabama has indicated that an investigation is nearing is conclusion.

Interim university President John Smith told students and employees that the lawyer hired by the school, Suntrease Williams Maynard, has finished interviews with numerous people. She is expected soon to present a report on three faculty members who at a 2014 Halloween party wore what some regarded as racially insensitive costumes.

Then-President Tony Waldrop launched the probe ion March after controversy erupted over the photos, depicting professor Bob Wood dressed in a Confederate solider uniform, professor Alex Sharland dressed as a “hanging judge,” and professor Teresa Weldy holding a noose.

After Maynard presents her findings, Smith wrote, the university will decide whether the professors violated the Faculty Handbook as it existed in 2014.

“If the facts presented are not adequate grounds to support a policy violation against any one of the faculty members, there will be no further proceedings involving that individual,” Smith wrote in the letter. “The matter will then proceed with any of the faculty members for whom the information in the report may support a finding of a policy violation.”

That handbook states that complaints may be based on “unlawful discrimination based upon sex (including pregnancy) or sexual orientation, or unlawful discrimination or harassment based on race, religion, color, national origin, age, disability, protected veteran status or genetic information.”

Revelations of the photos sparked a protest on campus, with some students calling for the professors to be fired. Wood, Sharland and Weldy remain on paid administrative leave.

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