"His comment and word choice are fundamentally offensive and wrong," University of Oklahoma Interim President Joseph Harroz Jr. said

By Robyn Merrett
February 11, 2020 11:17 PM
University of Oklahoma 
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A University of Oklahoma professor allegedly used the n-word during a lecture after taking offense to a student’s comments about older journalists.

Students told the University’s student newspaper OU Daily that Mass Communications professor Peter Gade was discussing the changes in journalism when he called on a student, who said journalists need to keep up with younger generations.

According to the article published Tuesday, Gade, who is white, said the comment was offensive and it was like saying, ‘OK, Boomer,” to him.

The lecture then allegedly took an unexpected term when Gade further elaborated on his disdain for the phrase, which is a new viral term, typically used to mock the baby boomer generation.

“Calling someone a boomer is like calling someone a n—,” Gade allegedly said, according to the OU Daily article.

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OU Daily‘s assistant culture editor Molly Kruse called out Gade during the lecture but alleged that the professor defended his use of the word and then changed the subject, according to the article.

Following the class, Ed Kelley dean of Gaylord College — University of Oklahoma’s Journalism School — met with students from the class.

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“I’m not sure that [type of language] does [have a place in the classroom]” Kelley said, according to the OU Daily. “Perhaps it did once upon a time. Perhaps he was using it as an educational tool. We have no record at all of Dr. Gade, a distinguished professor who’s been on the faculty here for more than 20 years, of him ever using this term, much less any kind of other racially inflamed language.”

Nonetheless, students are refusing to attend Gade’s class as long as he’s the professor, OU Daily reported.

Gade did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

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Since the alleged incident, University of Oklahoma Interim President Joseph Harroz Jr. has released a statement, condemning Gade’s alleged behavior.

“Today a professor stated in his senior journalism class that there is an equivalence between the offensiveness of “OK, Boomer” and the use of the “N-word,” using the actual word itself. 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 Jr. said.

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“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. #WeAre speaks for our community; his words today do not,” the statement concluded.

Whether or not Gade will remain a professor at the university is not immediately clear.

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