University Of Kansas Professor Investigated For Racial Slur

24 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A Kansas Professor is on Paid Leave for Uttering this Racial Slur.

A University of Kansas, a professor is reportedly under investigation for using the n-word during a class discussion about race as tensions related to diversity and discrimination continue to mount at the school. The class is designed to provide graduate students with teaching instruction, and the topic on that day — Nov. 12 — was how to talk to undergraduate students on college campuses about sensitive racial issues.The school told Andrea Quenette, an assistant professor of communication studies, on Friday that five people had filed a discrimination complaint against her, she told the Lawrence Journal-World.

Reports said the 33-year teacher had requested a leave of absence, and the university said she will have to stay off campus until an investigation into the incident is completed. The incident occurred a day after a heated university-wide forum on race and discrimination, in which students called for the resignation of three Student Senate leaders over concerns about diversity on campus.

Students began complaining about Quenette after she used the racial slur during a Nov. 12 class for graduate students who teach undergraduate classes. According to Lawrence Journal-World, Quenette had prepared a statement of her own to clarify her comments and apologize, but several students didn’t want to hear her apology. The lesson followed protests on a number of college campuses, including the University of Missouri’s Columbia campus, over racist incidents. “I didn’t intend to offend anyone, I didn’t intend to hurt anyone. According to the letter, Quenette told the class: “As a white woman I just never have seen the racism. … It’s not like I see ‘[n-word]’ spray painted on walls.” Gabrielle Byrd, the classroom’s only black student, told The Washington Post that she almost couldn’t believe what she’d just heard. Student protesters and civil rights activists say many universities have not gone far enough to create a campus culture of inclusiveness for people of color.

That particular racial slur, Byrd noted, is one she refuses to speak out loud herself. “I was incredibly shocked that the word was spoken, regardless of the context,” Byrd said Monday. “I turned to the classmate siting next to me and asked if this was really happening. In that regard, I consider it within my purview….to talk about those issues.” But not everyone approved of what happened in the class on November 12. Quenette has made it a habit to disparage the reputations of veteran GTAs in the Communication Studies department by naming them and mocking their classroom policies and procedures, and disclosing private information regarding research projects involving other GTAs [graduate teaching assistants],” the open letter reads. “Dr. Quenette, who is 33 and has been teaching at the university for two years, said that diversity in the classroom was on the syllabus, and a student asked how they could talk about race issues in their own classes.

When the discussion steered towards low graduation rates of black students, Quenette claimed that it was exclusively because of poor academic performance and not systematic racism as the students were suggesting. I didn’t direct my words at any individual or group of people,” Quenette said. “It was an open conversation about a serious issue that is affecting our campus, and it will affect our teachers. On Monday, hundreds of students at Brandeis University in Massachusetts occupied an administrative building for a fourth consecutive day, demanding the school’s interim president increase the number of black faculty members and confront issues on race.

Students have posted messages to Twitter with the hashtag #FireAndreaQuenette. “She tried her best to help the students realise that it will not always be easy to see racism, especially if they haven’t experienced it firsthand,” the page said of Ms Quenette’s lesson. “She also tried to propose practical solutions and give perspective as an experienced university professor. Quenette consistently misrepresented and denied speech calling attention to sexist remarks, racially insensitive comments, inappropriate jokes, constant swearing, hostility to alternative teaching methods, and ridicule of incoming GTAs that were all made apparent in the evaluations of orientation and/or during COMS 930 class sessions.

Like Missouri, the Brandeis students say that 10 percent of the school’s faculty should be black – a number they say would better reflect the diversity of the student population. In this discussion she used a racial slur as an example of ugly language, not directed at any student or individual and in the interest of adding to the discussion.” Her comments that followed were even more disparaging as they articulated not only her lack of awareness of racial discrimination and violence on this campus and elsewhere but an active denial of institutional, structural, and individual racism. Schumacher said she believes Quenette ‘‘actively violated policies’’ during the discussion, hurt students’ feelings — including the one black student, who left ‘‘devastated’’ — and has a previous history of being unsympathetic to students. After Ph.D. student Ian Beier presented strong evidence about low retention and graduation rates among Black students as being related to racism and a lack of institutional support, Dr.

Quenette responded with, “Those students are not leaving school because they are physically threatened everyday but because of academic performance.” This statement reinforces several negative ideas: that violence against students of color is only physical, that students of color are less academically inclined and able, and that structural and institutional cultures, policies, and support systems have no role in shaping academic outcomes. Claremont McKenna College in Los Angeles and Ithaca College in upstate New York have recently seen demonstrations calling for racial justice and equality. She added that she would’ve have apologized “in the moment” after using the slur, but her students remained silent, and the conversation continued.

She said the student-led campaign against her has been “very hurtful.” But students such as Byrd, who have been accused of being overly sensitive, said the decision to publicly challenge their instructor was not taken lightly. “This decision was not easy for us,” Byrd told The Post. “She has power over all of us, over my grade, over my job.

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