The president of the University of Louisville apologized Friday after a photo was published of him wearing a stereotypical Mexican costume at a staff Halloween party,
The photo of President James R. Ramsey, taken Wednesday as part of a Courier-Journal story about the university-owned mansion on campus, shows employees wearing things such as bushy mustaches, and holding maracas aloft. Ramsey is smiling in a brightly colored poncho and sombrero.
The Courier-Journal story described the event: “On Wednesday, the Ramseys were there to hold a lunch for the president’s U of L staff. … Jane Ramsey, who said she loves Halloween, handed out sombreros, fake mustaches and veils to more than a dozen people as they arrived …”
In a statement Friday afternoon, Ramsey wrote, “I want to personally apologize for the recent incident and any pain that it may have caused our students, faculty, staff and the community. We did not intend to cause harm or to be insensitive.
“I hope this doesn’t detract from the hard work we — the entire UofL community — have done and continue to do in building an inclusive, supportive, welcoming campus for all our university family. I pledge to work to ensure that we move forward as one university.”
On Thursday, Ramsey’s chief of staff, Kathleen Smith, had expressed “deep regret,” in a written statement.
“We made a mistake and are very sorry,” she wrote. “… This event shows we have much more to learn about our community.”
On social media some saw a similarity to the themed parties that have gotten lots of fraternities in trouble at various campuses across the country.
Know how we're always telling you about racist frat parties? This is the President of the University of Louisville. pic.twitter.com/U5DJBzkb85
— Strange Fruit (@StrangeFruitPod) October 29, 2015
The student newspaper, the Cardinal, ran a strongly worded reaction from its editor-in-chief, Olivia Krauth, with a headline beginning “What, what, what are you wearing?” saying the photos and costumes she had seen students wearing on campus clearly showed they understood how to wear a costume that was fun, not offensive. “I’m embarrassed that our president doesn’t have the same knowledge.”
Colleges across the country have been both praised for their sensitivity and mocked for excessive political correctness in the fall for advising students on how to choose costumes that don’t include racial stereotypes.
The University of Louisville also has been embroiled in a scandal after players and recruits said that staff members paid for strippers at dorm parties.