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A University of Kansas professor told the Lawrence Journal-World that she’s cleared of violating policies against racial harassment and discrimination for using the n-word in class.

A university official confirmed Friday to the Journal-World that investigators concluded their four-month probe, but declined to comment on the findings because of confidentiality.

Assistant professor of communication studies Andrea Quenette, who was on paid leave during the probe, spoke with the Journal-World about the findings and the process.

“I believe they did due diligence in taking the students’ concerns seriously, and I do appreciate that. I didn’t believe I had violated policies … so I’m glad that the outcome reflected that,” she told the Journal-World.

The investigators, according to Quenette, concluded that she indeed used the n-word during a class discussion on race, but not in a racially derogatory way.

“This word is offensive, but it was used in the context of retelling a factual event that occurred at another campus. It was not used in racial animus,” Quenette said to the Journal-World, explaining the findings.

Students from her class circulated a letter online written by mostly White students (just one student in the graduate-level class was Black). They quoted Quenette’s response to a question about how they should address racial tension to their own students:

“As a white woman I just never have seen the racism…It’s not like I see ‘N–ger’ spray painted on walls …,” she said, according to the letter.

In a previous interview with the Journal-World, the communications professor said she used the n-word in the context of a classroom discussion on diversity that was on the syllabus for that day. And it happened when racial tension on campus was high.

In that interview, Quenette told the Journal-World:

“I didn’t intend to offend anyone, I didn’t intend to hurt anyone. I didn’t direct my words at any individual or group of people. It was an open conversation about a serious issue that is affecting our campus, and it will affect our teachers. In that regard, I consider it within my purview … to talk about those issues.”

Jyleesa Hampton, a Black first-year communications graduate student, told the Journal-World that Quenette’s words hurt the students, despite the probe’s conclusion.

“The students that wrote that letter stand behind that letter, that it is possible to do and say racist things and not violate the law. That doesn’t make them any more acceptable,” said Hampton, who signed the open letter, but was not in the classroom for the incident.

Quenette said the university recommended cultural competency training, more diversity support in the curriculum, and working closely with a faculty mentor.

SOURCE: Lawrence Journal-World | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty 


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