OU Journalism Chair-Holder Apologizes for Using in Lecture
NORMAN—A professor at the University of Oklahoma came under fire last week after using the N-word in class.
Dr. Peter Gade, director of journalism graduate studies and Gaylord Family Endowed chair, used the racial slur while lecturing on technology-related changes and traditional reporting in journalism, according to the OU Daily, the student newspaper.
The newspaper said several staff-members were in class when the slur was used by the professor.
Dr. Gade teaches journalism, as well as ethics and democracy.
He called on a student who said journalists need to keep up with younger generations, according to a report by the student newspaper.
Dr. Gade said the comment was akin to saying “O.K. Boomer” to him, the student newspaper reported.
Some students laughed at the reference, which has become a favorite phrase used by younger generations, it was reported.
However, according to the OU Daily, Dr. Gade next said that “Calling someone a boomer is like calling someone a “nigger.”
The newspaper reported that several students were in the classroom when Dr. Gade told the class he was sorry if he offended anyone.
Ed Kelley, dean of the journalism school at the university, said Dr. Gade is a “distinguished professor, who has been on the faculty there for more than 20 years.”
He also told the newspaper that there is no record of Dr. Gade ever using the racial slur or any kind of other racially inflammatory language.
He told the student newspaper that college deans will meet with Black students, conduct “fact-finding,” meet with Dr. Gade and pursue next steps.
“We’re trying to work through this as best we know how, and I think the best process that we know has to be as open and aboveboard as we can be, and listening to students today is job one,” Mr. Kelley told the OU Daily.
Dr. Gade’s words are protected by his right to free speech, Joe Harroz Jr., interim president of the university, said in a statement.
“Today, a professor stated in his senior journalism class that there is equivalence between the offensiveness of ‘O.K., Boomer’ and the use of the ‘N-word, using the actual word itself,” Dr. Harroz said.
“While the professor’s comments are protected by the First Amendment and academic freedom, his comment and word choice are fundamentally offensive and wrong,” Dr. Harroz said. “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,” the school’s interim president went on.