University of Oklahoma apologizes after second professor uses N-word

The University of Oklahoma on Monday addressed a second professor using the N-word in as many weeks after a history professor reportedly said the word while reading a historical document.

“We are all weary of racially charged incidents occurring within our university community. Now, for the second time in less than two weeks, I find myself addressing a faculty member’s use of racially offensive language in the classroom,” Interim university president Joseph Harroz Jr. said in a letter to the university community Monday.

He said a history professor read from a historical document that used the offensive word “repeatedly” and repeated the racial slur while reading. Although the professor issued a trigger warning to students before the class, Harroz said it “does not lessen the pain caused by the use of the word.”

“For students in the class, as well as members of our community, this was another painful experience. It is common sense to avoid uttering the most offensive word in the English language, especially in an environment where the speaker holds the power,” Harroz said in the Monday letter.

The University of Oklahoma denounced a journalism professor earlier this month after the professor told a class of students that calling someone a “boomer” was akin to calling someone the N-word, using the racial slur.

Harroz in the Monday letter said the university has started “working on a number of action steps." University faculty, staff and administrators will undergo a required diversity, equity and inclusion training. Although students already “engage in this type of training,” it will be the first time for faculty and staff. 

The university is also developing an “incident response protocol” that will employ “culturally restorative justice practices designed to create a pathway to reconciliation through education and the changing of behavior.” Harroz said the university will be providing more details on the protocol and further steps soon.

“While it is unfortunate that another incident would occur before we could roll out this action plan, we are resolute in addressing these matters with decisive action. It is our responsibility to ensure that OU fulfills its promise to lead in bringing society closer together,” Harroz said.