Students at the University of Oklahoma said a professor used the n-word during a class discussion Tuesday morning. Students said they were in a senior ethics class at the Gaylord School of Journalism when Professor Peter Gade compared calling an older person “Boomer” to calling a black person the n-word. (Gade used the actual racial slur).
“We were all completely taken aback by it,” said Janae Reeves one of two black students in the class. “Me, I was hurt. I stayed in class out of respect for the professor even though I felt I had every right in that moment to get up and walk out.”
Reeves said 4 or 5 students did walk out. According to the Gaylord chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists Title IX was notified as was the Gaylord’s dean.
The University Black Emergency Response Team said they have reached out to students and are also investigating.
“I don’t care what the context is, you should not be using that word,” said BERT co-founder Jamelia Reed. “I don’t use it and you shouldn’t use that word.”
The Association of Black Journalists are asking for tangible repercussions for the professor as well as additional efforts to increase diversity and inclusion at the college.
Reeves said she just wants people to think before they speak.
“I don’t think he’s racist. He just should have used a better choice of words,” she said.
Interim president Joseph Harroz Jr. released the following statement:
Today a professor stated in his senior journalism class that there is an equivalence between the offensiveness of “OK, Boomer” and the use of the “N-word,” using the actual word itself. While the professor’s comments are protected by the First Amendment and academic freedom, his comment and word choice are fundamentally offensive and wrong. The use of the most offensive word, by a person in a position of authority, hurt and minimized those in the classroom and beyond. Our University must serve as an example to our society of both freedom of expression and understanding and tolerance. His words today failed to meet this standard. #WeAre speaks for our community; his words today do not. - Joseph Harroz Jr.
A University spokeswoman released a statement concerning next steps the college plans to make.
While the First Amendment protects the professor from sanction, at OU we work as a community to address serious matters such as this one. Great universities do not simply reflect society, we create better societies. Throughout the day, Gaylord College and administrative leadership have met with many students, as well as the faculty member in question, to begin addressing the very real concerns around this issue. 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.
WATCH: OU Professor Apologizes For Using Racial Slur During Class