Monday, November 24, 2014

The N-Word, in Class

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, she said.
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).

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