University of North Texas attorney resigns after saying N-word during presentation on hate speech

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An attorney with the University of North Texas (UNT) resigned after using a racial slur during a presentation on hate speech titled “When Hate Comes to Campus.”

Caitlin Sewell, the assistant general counsel for the UNT system, was giving a presentation to about 250 audience members on Thursday about protected speech and the First Amendment, according to The Houston Chronicle.

Shortly after beginning, she warned onlookers that she would have to say something offensive in order to talk about offensive speech.{mosads}

“It’s impossible to talk about the First Amendment without saying horrible things, like, you know, ‘You’re just a dumb n—–, and I hate you,’” Sewell said, according to audio recordings circulating on social media. “That’s protected speech. If you walk into the Dean of Students office and start screaming obscenities about, ‘F this place, F all of you, y’all are all f-ing stupid,’ they can escort you out and do that immediately.”

When Sewell began concluding her presentation a few minutes later, students began questioning her, according to the outlet.

“Excuse me, why did you censor the F-word but not the N-word?” one audience member asked. 

“It was unnecessary and it was cruel, and you know that,” another said.

The Chronicle reported that Sewell appeared visibly upset and said she did not mean to offend anyone, drawing groans from the audience when she said the racial slur “came out without thought.”

“I have literally never said that word in a public setting before,” she reportedly said.

Neal Smatresk, UNT’s president, released an apology after the event.

“A member of the UNT staff used a racial epithet that was not reflective of the values of our university community,” Smatresk wrote on Twitter.  “While the individual was trying to make a point about First Amendment speech, this language is never condoned in our community which prides itself on our diversity and caring nature.”

Sewell resigned less than 24 hours later, and Smatresk wrote in a follow-up joint statement that UNT will reportedly be meeting with student leaders soon to “continue to foster a culture of diversity.”

UNT includes approximately 44,000 students in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Approximately 35 percent of the student population is African American, and UNT is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, according to the Chronicle.


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