Professor at Duquesne University On Leave for Using N-Word, Encouraging Students to Do So as Well

Illustration for article titled Professor at Duquesne University On Leave for Using N-Word, Encouraging Students to Do So as Well

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White people really stay looking for excuses to use the N-word. A university professor in Pennsylvania is on leave for not only using it in a class but giving students permission to do so as well.

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According to NBC News, Duquesne University placed educational psychology professor Gary Shank on leave after a video was shared on social media of him using the N-word and giving students permission to do so as well. “What’s the one word about race that we’re not allowed to use? I’ll give you a hint. It starts with ‘N,’” Shank is heard saying on the video. After none of the students respond, he continues: “It’s even hard to say, OK. I’ll tell you the word, and again: I’m not using it in any way other than to demonstrate a point.” Shank goes on to use the word, explaining the different ways it was used when he was younger.

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Student publication the Duquesne Duke obtained an email Shank sent to students apologizing for his use of the slur. “As part of my pedagogy, this morning I used a term that I now realize was deeply troubling to the class. It was not my intent to do so, but I must take responsibility for the impact of my words and teaching,” Shank wrote. “I am offering each and every one of you my most sincere apology and my guarantee that I will never cross this line again in our class.”

“It was one of the most uncomfortable classes I’ve ever participated in,” student Katie Rhodes told the Duke. “Racial insensitivity is never OK and for a professor to hide behind a racial slur by saying it was for educational purposes is extremely disappointing and made me appalled.”

Darian Reynolds, president of the Duquesne Black Student Union, said that there was no excuse for Shank using the slur. “I don’t see how anyone can justify the use of that word in that context,” Reynolds told the Duke. “Whatever his intent was, it’s one of those things that shouldn’t be said.”

On Saturday, the university released a statement announcing that Shank had been put on paid leave pending an investigation and another professor would be taking over the class. Included in the statement was a letter from School of Education Dean Gretchen Generett where she offered her “sincere apologies to you for what you experienced.”

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“There is never a time, pedagogically or otherwise, for a professor to create a hostile learning environment,” Generett wrote. “Using the ‘N word’ or seemingly encouraging students to use that word is not in keeping with the mission of the University, the School of Education, or the Pennsylvania Department of Education.”

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