The Duke University athletic department apologized and removed a photo from its website that showed a junior women's lacrosse player dressed in blackface at a Halloween party, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.
The juniors on the team decided to to dress up as characters from the movie “Little Rascals.” Junior Taylor Virden chose to go as “Buckwheat,” an African American character in the film. As part of her costume, Virden donned blackface.
A photo of Virden and the other team members was part of a rotating gallery on Duke's athletic department's until a student notified an administrator about it, at which point the image was removed. Prior to the incident, the university did not have a policy governing photo inspection on its athletic department's website. That will now change.
Team head coach, Kerstin Kimel, who hosted the party at her house, issued an apology on Monday.
“This year, some of our costume choices were insensitive and entirely inappropriate,” Kimel said. “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. On behalf of our coaching staff and our student-athletes, we apologize to anyone we may have offended and understand while we believed we were making decisions in good fun, we should have been much more sensitive to the implications of our actions.”
Duke has been mired in racial accusations in the past. In 2006, three male lacrosse players at the school were accused of raping an African American woman. While all three men were exonerated, the case cast a light on what many — both outside and inside of Duke — perceived to be poor race relations at the prestigious university.