Using N-Word In Class Lands University Of Kansas Professor In Trouble

Using N-Word In Class Lands University Of Kansas Professor In Trouble
Stop 1 Teunie van Hernen / Flickr CC BY 2.0
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A communications professor at the University of Kansas was placed on paid leave after she uttered a racial slur during a class discussion on diversity.


Five students had reportedly filed discrimination complaints against Andrea Quenette, an assistant professor of communication studies at the university. Requesting a leave of absence, she was told by the university that, pending investigation, she will have to remain off campus during the period of her administrative leave.

On November 12, during the Communications Studies 930 course for graduate students who teach undergraduate classes, the issue of racism was discussed in the classroom. It was during this discussion when Quenette used the n-word when she was drawing comparisons between events at KU to incidents surrounding racism occurring at campuses nationwide.

“I haven’t seen those things happen, I haven’t seen that word spray-painted on our campus,” she said, as reported by the Lawrence Journal-World. “I haven’t seen students physically assaulted.” She further said that, had anyone spoken up, she would have apologized at the time.

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The students were left in “shock and disbelief,” according to an open letter published in Medium last week. When she asked the students to give her more incidents of racist incidents at KU, she was “dismissive” of the examples she was given. After uttering the slur, the professor went on to say “even more disparaging things.” When the discussion steered towards low graduation rates of black students, Quenette claimed that it was solely because of poor academic performance and not systematic racism as the students were suggesting.

The class consisted of nine white students and one black student. Amy Schumacher, a first-year doctoral student, said most students “just shut down” after Quenette’s slur. Schumacher further said she believes that Quenette “actively violated policies,” leaving the one black student “devastated.”

Jyleesa Hampton, a first-year communications graduate student, is one of those who tweeted using the hashtag #FireAndreaQuenette. “People talked about being scared to return to class, scared to have her in charge of their grades,” she said. “I don’t think it will be a safe environment for me” to teach in.

Quenette maintained that her comments weren’t directed to hurt any student’s feelings. “I didn’t direct my words at any individual or group of people,” she said. “It was an open conversation about a serious issue that is affecting our campus, and it will affect our teachers. In that regard, I consider it within my purview… to talk about those issues.”


  • Geralt Rivia

    Sensitive little special snowflakes can’t handle a word and “shutdown”? The unemployment rate for this generation is going to be staggering when they find out the real world won’t bow down to them. She didn’t even direct at anyone and was speaking in context of racism. I don’t think it was the word itself but her dismissal of their bullshit racism claims that caused this, they just used her using of the word as a weapon to try and get her fired. Kids need a wake-up call.

  • xyz

    PC BS

  • It Will Never Be Right

    Universities are getting what they wanted: Ultra-lib, thin-skinned, me-victim mentality. Bunch of babies.

  • BigRalphSmith

    I guess intent means nothing anymore.
    It’s all about bystander opinion.
    The very definition of “PC BS”.

  • BigEnso

    As I have noted before, if this kind of insanity continues, I’ll bet they are going to have a hard time teaching American literature classes at the University of Kansas (or any other university that bows to this kind of pressure) when they get to Mark Twain’s writings not to mention Uncle Tom’s Cabin by the American abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe. And lets not forget Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass. All of those contain multiple occurrences of the dreaded word that strikes fear in the hearts of students and creates panic in the hallways of academia. Do we rewrite history and continue to dumb down our educational system in order to be politically correct? If trends continue, I fear that is our fate.

    • Devin Brooks

      They will either not allow those books to be covered… or worse yet they will have the books edited

  • thesafesurfer

    Liberal higher education is hopelessly broken.

    Do away with federal funding of any degrees outside of STEM.
    Do away with tenure.
    Outlaw faculty associations at public universities.

  • molinyc

    … be followed by an apology tour, sensitivity and diversity training courses and re-employnent by the same university in order to keep her like a trained seal and an example – when the Black community is outraged again in the not too distant future.

  • Devin Brooks

    Since when did society as a whole become so pathetic that a word is so devastating?

  • Frank Boffi

    Oh my god! Somebody just called me a wopp deigo! I’m devastated! I think I’ll go round back of the garage and shoot myself.Oh the humanity!