A professor at the University of Oklahoma has recently come under fire for repeatedly using a racial slur while reading from a historical document during a class lecture. It was the second time a professor at the university received criticism for using the term in a class this month.
The university’s interim president Joseph Harroz addressed the incident in a letter on Monday to the university community. Harroz did not name the professor but added that she gave students a “trigger warning” in class before reciting the slur.
“While she could have made the point without reciting the actual word, she chose otherwise,” Harroz wrote. “Her issuance of a ‘trigger warning’ before her recitation does not lessen the pain caused by the use of the word.”
He continued, noting that it’s “common sense to avoid uttering the most offensive word in the English language, especially in an environment where the speaker holds the power.”
Harroz began the letter pointing out that the latest incident was just one of the “racially charged incidents” that have occurred on campus this month.
“Now, for the second time in less than two weeks, I find myself addressing a faculty member’s use of racially offensive language in the classroom,” he wrote.
Earlier this month, Peter Gade, the director of graduate studies at the university’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, came under swift scrutiny after he told a capstone class that “calling someone a boomer is like calling someone a nigger.” According to multiple students he also compared using the slur to using the phrase “OK, Boomer,” a quip used to mockingly reference the baby boomer generation, the student newspaper OU Daily reported.
Gade later apologized for his remarks in a letter sent to students, writing that he “made an inexcusable mistake,” the Associated Press reported. The college’s Dean Ed Kelley announced days later that Gade would step down from teaching the capstone for the rest of the semester.
Harroz said in his letter Monday that the university had initiated a number of “action steps” after Gade used the slur in class, including implementing a diversity, equity and inclusion program for faculty, staff and administration; and an incident response protocol.
“While it is unfortunate that another incident would occur before we could roll out this action plan, we are resolute in addressing these matters with decisive action,” he wrote.
Students, including a university group called the Black Emergency Response Team, have led sit-in demonstrations and a hunger strike on campus to protest the recent incidents and other race-related issues at the university.
Last year, two students withdrew from the university after a video showed one of the women in blackface and using a racial slur.