Leaders at Oklahoma’s flagship university will once again be addressing racism on campus with students at a planned discussion during class Thursday, after a professor used the N-word during a lecture earlier this week.
“Great universities do not simply reflect society, we create better societies,” OU Director of Media Relations said in a statement on Tuesday. “On Thursday, the class itself will have the opportunity to meet with Gaylord College leadership to voice concerns and have a conversation about moving forward. We are better together, and together we will learn and grow from events such as this.”
OU Gaylord College journalism professor Dr. Peter Gade used the N-word during lecture while comparing it to using the phrase “ok, Boomer.” the popular sarcastic, internet phrase to call baby boomers out of touch.
Current and former students said Gade is known for teaching with a certain amount of shock value, but students in his senior capstone course called his language unacceptable.
“Being called a boomer, yes is offensive and can be to the older generation, however it is not a racial slur," Gaylord student Janae Reeves said.
OU Interim President Joe Harroz also condemned Gade’s use of a racial slur calling it “"fundamentally offensive and wrong" in a statement sent out in the hours after the incident made news.
Gade’s use of the word is the latest in a string of racist or racially insensitive incidents on campus in the last five years. It also comes almost exactly a year since a video depicting a now former OU student using a racial slur. That video followed several videos of students and individuals on campus in black face and was followed by an offensive string of messages in a group chat among members of the OU College Republicans.
Reaction to the incidents boiled over at a public meeting led by former OU President Jim Gallogly, although no disciplinary action was taken.
Harroz, however, did launch a new initiative in 2019, appointing a new Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion and the campaign #WeAre meant to inspire unity at OU.
It’s unclear if Gade will face any disciplinary action, although action is already being called for by prominent student groups of color on campus. The group known as the Black Emergency Response Team, which has been the most vocal among student groups taking on racially charged incidents on campus held a meeting Wednesday night.
Writing on twitter the group called for action saying, “We do not condone or accept this behavior from any member of the OU community regardless of occupation or student status. This will not be tolerated or accepted and we expect full action be taken against the professor and college. In addition, we expect accommodation be made for the students who have experienced trauma because of this.”