Inside Higher Ed
November 24th, 2014
Should students hear the "n-word," a slur for black people, in class?
And if a professor uses it and then apologizes, should that apology
feature multiple uses of the word?
These questions are being debated at the Mercer University Law
School, where black students are calling for the dismissal of a
professor, David Oedel, who used the word in his constitutional law
class -- without any need to do so, the students say.
Tiffany Watkins, a third-year student at the law school and president
of the Black Law Students Association, said the group was not ruling
out that there might be circumstances where there are pedagogical
reasons to use the word. But the reason to do so needs to be essential,
Oedel first used the word (according to his account and others) when
discussing the way justices of the Supreme Court viewed Thurgood
Marshall when he argued Brown v. Board of Education (as a
lawyer, before he joined the high court). Then, a few days later, Oedel
reportedly apologized to the class, but in doing so used the word
several more times (some reports say up to 10 times).