A professor at a Kansas college who dressed as Michael Jackson for Halloween has come under fire with some accusing her of cultural appropriation.

Holly O’Neil, who is white, is now also the subject of an investigation by Washburn University, where she works as an associate professor of chemistry and an interim assistant dean. O’Neil dressed as The King of Pop at the English Department’s annual Halloween Party where she danced to his Halloween classic “Thriller,” according to the Washburn Review.

A video of O’Neil dancing was uploaded to Facebook, but has since been deleted. 

A university spokesperson confirmed to the student paper that it is looking into the incident, but provided no additional details.

“Washburn University is reviewing concerns raised about a costume worn by an employee to an on-campus Halloween party Thursday, Oct. 27,” the spokesperson told The Review.

Holly O’Neil
Holly O’Neil is now the subject of an investigation by Washburn University over wearing a Michael Jackson costume to a Halloween party.
Washburn University

“We are gathering information and hearing perspectives from the students, faculty and staff who were involved and have been affected before developing a response to the situation. Washburn’s commitment to an inclusive campus community will be an important part of this review process.”

Washburn University is a public university founded in 1865 with an undergraduate enrollment in 2021 of around 5,000 students, according to US News.



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