UCF professor allegedly dressed up, used accent during recorded video lessons, students say
ORLANDO, Fla - A University of Central Florida professor's online lectures have sparked controversy after some students allege the professor appeared to wear brown makeup to make his skin appear darker, wore traditional middle eastern clothing, and spoke in an accent some felt was inappropriate during some of his recorded lessons.
Professor Kenneth Hanson is an associate professor with the University's Judaic Studies Program and appears in the videos, which were posted to a public website alongside other school coursework.
"It’s 2022. I feel like I’m in a class in the 1960s. It doesn’t make sense," said one student taking Hanson's class and asked not to be identified.
"I first noticed his practices with dark makeup, costumes (is this the word she used?), and he would put on like an accent while role-playing as historical figures in his lecture videos and that’s when I first noticed this is definitely something that’s inappropriate and wrong," the student said.
It isn't the first time that a student has complained about the professor's materials.
FOX 35 learned that an anonymous student complained about Dr. Hanson's materials in 2018 alleging "(Dr. Hanson) has been presenting derogatory and stereotypical depiction of cultures and religions in his online teaching materials…"
A University of Central Florida professor's online lectures have sparked controversy after some students allege the professor appeared to wear brown makeup to make his skin appear darker, wore traditional middle eastern clothing, and spoke in an acce
In that incident, the University's Office of Institutional Equity found no wrongdoing and said in its report: "Dr. Hanson has not represented cultures not his own, or even those that are his own, in an inappropriate fashion."
In 2021, another student filed a complaint and alleged Dr. Hanson would darken the skin tone of his face to portray different characters. In that case, the University recommended Dr. Hanson discontinue the practice.
FOX 35 attempted multiple times to reach Dr. Hanson for comment. He did not respond to our phone calls, messages, or emails. FOX 35 attempted to talk to Dr. Hanson during office hours, but he was not there. His receptionist said he was handling office hours via Zoom.
When reached, UCF declined an on-camera interview and instead provided a written statement.
"We recognize this content was offensive to some of the UCF community. The videos related to the complaints have been removed from the courses by Dr. Hanson, and he is working with his department leadership and students to address any further concerns about course content," the University said in its statement.
FOX 35 showed the videos to Syria Lutfi, the president of the Palestinian Student Association at UCF.
"To know that that guy is working here at an institution that I pay so much money for and that I take so much pride in, is so hurtful to see," she said. "It’s so hurtful to see that I have to walk on the same campus that this man roams on and puts out videos like that and educates students mocking my culture."
"I don’t know why the school hasn’t done anything to remove this man from power," she said.
The anonymous student we spoke to wants a better explanation from UCF on why this was allowed in the first place, and an apology from professor Hanson.