The University of Oklahoma has denounced a journalism professor who told a class of students that calling someone a boomer was like calling someone the n-word.
The OU Daily reports that on Tuesday, professor Peter Gade, a faculty member of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication since 1998, was discussing how journalism should keep to traditional practices in an era of innovative technology and digital communication when a student voiced a contradictory opinion and said journalists should work to keep up with younger generations.
Gade, who holds the distinction of the Gaylord Family Endowed Chair and director of graduate studies, responded to the student that their response was the equivalent of telling him “OK Boomer.”
The class began laughing at the reference of a popular cultural meme, but ceased as Gade made the comparison that “Calling someone a boomer is like calling someone a n-----,” saying the racial slur used against black and African Americans for centuries aloud in class.
The comparison was so disruptive that some students reportedly left the class soon after it was uttered.
When given the opportunity by several news outlets, Gade declined to comment, but University of Oklahoma Interim President Joseph Harroz Jr. called his comment “fundamentally offensive and wrong” while simultaneously acknowledging Gade’s First Amendment right to speech.
“The use of the most offensive word, by a person in a position of authority, hurt and minimized those in the classroom and beyond. Our University must serve as an example to our society of both freedom of expression and understanding and tolerance. His words today failed to meet this standard,” Harroz Jr. continued in a press release.
Student outreach has been strong in the fallout of Gade’s comments. Ed Kelley, the dean of Gaylord College, reportedly met with students from the class to discuss how the word impacted them. The university’s Black Emergency Response Team (BERT) also issued a statement on Twitter condemning Gade’s actions.
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.(1/2)— BERT (@BERT_OU) February 11, 2020
The school will decide how to handle the situation when a representative consensus of student responses is gathered.