A University of Oklahoma professor is under fire after comparing the N-word to the social media term “OK, boomer.” Now, the professor is apologizing and the university is trying to do damage control.
According to the University’s student newspaper OU Daily, a Peter Gade, a mass communications professor, was discussing journalism when he “called on a student who said journalists have to keep up with the younger generations as they continue to change.”
Gade, who is white, claimed the student’s comment was the equivalent of saying “Ok, boomer,” which is a viral meme of young people calling out baby boomers for patronizing opinions. Gade took it another step and said, “Calling someone a boomer is like calling someone a n-----.”
Gade is also the director of graduate studies for the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication and a Gaylord Family endowed chair. Gaylord College is a unit of the University of Oklahoma.
Janae Reeves, who was one of three African-Americans in the class, said,“It was shocking to everybody in that class because we weren't on the topic of race or discrimination or anything like that, or anything historical for that matter. We were having a normal class discussion like we do every Tuesday and Thursday.”
Reeves also said she doesn't feel comfortable returning to Gade’s class.
OU's Black Emergency Response Team wrote on Twitter yesterday, “We do not condone or accept this behavior from any member of the OU community regardless of occupation or student status. This will not be tolerated or accepted and we expect full action be taken against the professor and college.”
The university's interim president, Joseph Harroz Jr., released a statement, “While the professor's comments are protected by the First Amendment and academic freedom, his comment and word choice are fundamentally offensive and wrong. The use of the most offensive word, by a person in a position of authority, hurt and minimized those in the classroom and beyond.”
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Gade is now apologizing, telling the university newspaper via email, "I realize the word was hurtful and infuses the racial divisions of our country, past and present. Use of the word is inappropriate in any — especially educational — settings. I offer my deepest and most sincere apologies. In the coming weeks, I will strive to show you that I am an instructor and teacher who is trustworthy and respectful of all. Please give me that opportunity.”
OU Daily reports Gaylord College and administrative leadership have met with students and Professor Gade. On Thursday, the full class will “meet with Gaylord College leadership to voice concerns and have a conversation about moving forward.”
(Photo by Collegiate Images via Getty Images)