Local News

Duke apologizes for player's 'insensitive' Halloween costume

Posted November 12, 2012 6:18 p.m. EST
Updated November 12, 2012 7:12 p.m. EST

— The Duke University women's lacrosse team has come under fire after a photo was posted on a university website that showed a player in black-face.

The photo was taken at a Halloween party at coach Kerstin Kimel's house, where a group of juniors dressed up like characters from The Little Rascals comedy movies. The player who dressed as "Buckwheat" painted her face black for the party.

The photo appeared on GoDuke.com last week along with a player's blogpost, but it was removed early Monday.

Duke officials declined to comment Monday, other than saying a staff member had approved the blog and the picture before they were posted.

Kimel issued a statement apologizing for the costume.

“Some of our costume choices were insensitive and entirely inappropriate. No offense was intended, but that does not matter, because we should have realized how these choices would be viewed by those outside of our program," she said. "On behalf of our coaching staff and our student-athletes, we apologize to anyone we may have offended and understand (that), while we believed we were making decisions in good fun, we should have been much more sensitive to the implications of our actions.”

Reactions on the Duke campus to the student's decision to wear black-face were mixed.

"It was probably done out of ignorance, I would say. She probably didn't realize how that could be taken offensively. She probably knows now," student Jillian Dawkins said.

"I don't think, at this point, it should be a question of whether it is right or wrong. I mean, everyone knows you don't do black-face. I don't think there is much nuance in it," graduate student Audrey Bone said.

"If that's what he actually looked like, I am actually fine with that," student Brooks Sime said. "I am all for the spirit of Halloween and dressing up and looking like the people you are supposed to portray, regardless of what you actually look like."

The blog noted that seniors on the lacrosse team dressed as "What would I be without Duke lacrosse," and the costumes included a hair stylist, a yoga instructor and a manicurist.