Duke lacrosse has found itself in another race-related controversy.
This time it’s the women’s squad, as a picture of the team in their Halloween costumes made it to the front page of the GoDuke.com official athletics website. The problem is that one of the students, junior Taylor Virden, dressed up as The Little Rascals character Buckwheat, including wearing blackface. The photo was apparently taken at head coach Kerstin Kimel‘s home as part of an annual party, according to The Chronicle, Duke’s student newspaper.
The photo was taken down some time midday on Monday, but was originally part of a rotating gallery on the home page of the website. Apparently such pictures were not previously reviewed by Duke athletics before going online, which will now change.
Later on Monday Kimel released a statement:
“The Duke Women’s Lacrosse program celebrates Halloween with an annual gathering. This year, 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. 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.”
The matter is likely exacerbated by Duke lacrosse’s recent history, notably the very public 2006 case in which three male players were accused of rape. Although the players were eventually exonerated, the incident did bring to light racial tensions between Duke students and the local community.
Check out a screenshot of the offending picture below (Virden is on the far right).
Photo via Twitter/Michael Harris