Black Law Students at Rutgers Outraged After White Student Uses Racial Slur While Quoting Legal Case
“At the height of a ‘racial reckoning,’ a responsible adult should know not to use a racial slur regardless of its use in a 1993 opinion”
It’s not like this student was trying to insult anyone, he was talking about something in legal context, at a law school.
The New York Times reports:
Debate Erupts at N.J. Law School After White Student Quotes Racial Slur
The controversy over the use of a racial slur that has embroiled a public law school in New Jersey began with a student quoting from case law during a professor’s virtual office hours.
The first-year student at Rutgers Law School in Newark, who is white, repeated a line from a 1993 legal opinion, including the epithet, when discussing a case.
What followed has jolted the state institution, unleashing a polarizing debate over the constitutional right to free speech on campus and the power of a hateful word at a moment of intense national introspection over race, equity and systemic bias.
The tension comes at a time of heightened sensitivity to offensive words on college and law school campuses, where recent uses of slurs by professors during lessons have resulted in discipline and dismissal.
In early April, in response to the incident, a group of Black first-year students at Rutgers Law began circulating a petition calling for the creation of a policy on racial slurs and formal, public apologies from the student and the professor, Vera Bergelson.
“At the height of a ‘racial reckoning,’ a responsible adult should know not to use a racial slur regardless of its use in a 1993 opinion,” states the petition, which has been signed by law school students and campus organizations across the country.
“We vehemently condemn the use of the N-word by the student and the acquiescence of its usage,” the petition says.
Professor Bergelson, 59, has said that she did not hear the word spoken during the videoconference session, which three students attended after a criminal law class, and would have corrected the student if she had.
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