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OU professor apologizes for using racial slur

Evans Hall is the administration building on the University of Oklahoma campus in Norman, Okla.
Evans Hall is the administration building on the University of Oklahoma campus in Norman, Okla.

A University of Oklahoma professor has apologized for using the N-word in class.

Professor Peter Gade sent an email to students in his journalism class to apologize for saying the full racial slur. The university student newspaper, the OU Daily, obtained the email from students in class, some of whom work for the student publication.

Gade called his use of the word "inexcusable," according to the OU Daily report.

“I realize the word was hurtful and infuses the racial divisions of our country, past and present,” Gade said in the email. “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.”

Gade is the director of graduate studies and an endowed chair at the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

He used the N-word while lecturing in a journalism class on Tuesday. Students said he tried to equate the racial slur to the phrase "OK, boomer."

Students from the class told the OU Daily that Gade said "calling someone a boomer is like calling someone a (N-word)."

A boomer is a person born during the baby boom between 1946 and 1964. Younger people have used "OK, boomer" as a catchphrase to dismiss older generations.

Interim OU President Joseph Harroz called the N-word "the most offensive word" and said Gade's use of it "hurt and minimized those in the classroom and beyond."

"While the professor’s comments are protected by the First Amendment and academic freedom, his comment and word choice are fundamentally offensive and wrong," Harroz said in a statement Tuesday.

Leaders in the Gaylord College and the OU administration have already met with several students and Gade, Harroz said. The class that heard the professor speak the racial slur will have the opportunity to meet with Gaylord College leadership to voice concerns and discuss how to move forward.

"We are better together, and together we will learn and grow from events such as this," Harroz said.

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