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(17,880 posts)
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 06:03 AM Nov 2015

KU professor who used n-word in class discussion is placed on leave

I wonder how a discussion of Huck Finn would go? Below is a portion of the quote from the "indictment".

From the newspaper story

"“I tried to preface everything I said with, ‘I don’t experience racial discrimination so it’s hard for me to understand the challenges that other people face, because I don’t often see those,’” said Quenette, who is white.

She said she pointed out that racist incidents on other campuses, including the University of Missouri in Columbia, have been very visible, and she used the n-word when comparing KU to them.

“I haven’t seen those things happen, I haven’t seen that word spray-painted on our campus, I haven’t seen students physically assaulted,” Quenette said."

The complaint letter. It does specify some serious actions like a FERPA violation by revealing grades and discussing confidential information related to graduate student research. On the flip side these are graduate students so you should expect a bit more open discussion.

"We students in the class began discussing possible ways to bring these issues up in our classes when COMS 930 instructor Dr. Andrea Quenette abruptly interjected with deeply disturbing remarks. Those remarks began with her admitted lack of knowledge of how to talk about racism with her students because she is white. “As a white woman I just never have seen the racism…It’s not like I see ‘Nigger’ spray painted on walls…” she said."


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KU professor who used n-word in class discussion is placed on leave (Original Post) exboyfil Nov 2015 OP
Whaaaat? Sounds like she should not be teaching since she doesn't understand reality. Rex Nov 2015 #1
I would advise any white professor to stick to the course material 6chars Nov 2015 #2
I'm a white professor of Latin American history... a la izquierda Nov 2015 #3
You should be extremely careful 6chars Nov 2015 #4
It is easier and safer just to avoid the topic altogether. AngryAmish Nov 2015 #8
Chilling effect on academic discourse exboyfil Nov 2015 #9
Universities have policies. 6chars Nov 2015 #10
Hm. These students asked her how to talk about race in the classroom. Buzz Clik Nov 2015 #28
"prescribed bounds of academic freedom"?????????? FrodosPet Nov 2015 #48
Orwellian Facility Inspector Nov 2015 #54
how about "academic freedom zone" 6chars Nov 2015 #55
You act as if there is such a thing as free expression in academia AngryAmish Nov 2015 #11
There is a text of Huck Finn that has THE WORD edited out of it deutsey Nov 2015 #12
And that's stupid Goblinmonger Nov 2015 #38
I agree deutsey Nov 2015 #44
That's a mistake IMO. Twain does a brilliant job of showing uneducated Huck struggle4progress Nov 2015 #47
Chilling effect? ryan_cats Nov 2015 #16
If it has come to that, we have finally jumped the shark. Drahthaardogs Nov 2015 #13
You're joking, right. a la izquierda Nov 2015 #42
+1 Buzz Clik Nov 2015 #26
LOL...okay this is just silly...would YOU say something as culturally insensitive as Rex Nov 2015 #31
Clearly not a la izquierda Nov 2015 #43
I hear ya, most of my relatives are idiot tea party types. Rex Nov 2015 #45
Do you feel it is a one and done situation? exboyfil Nov 2015 #5
The students are calling for her termination 6chars Nov 2015 #7
Message auto-removed Name removed Nov 2015 #58
This professor may lose her job? Yorktown Nov 2015 #6
indeed. sad new world. bbgrunt Nov 2015 #32
It appears diversity as it relates to classroom practices was on the syllabus and relevant aikoaiko Nov 2015 #14
kind of ironic 6chars Nov 2015 #15
"so unsafe in the face of her verbal violence" MadDAsHell Nov 2015 #19
"made the students so unsafe in the face of her verbal violence" tkmorris Nov 2015 #22
that was the students' wording. 6chars Nov 2015 #23
*shrug* You adopted the words as your own tkmorris Nov 2015 #24
should vs. will 6chars Nov 2015 #25
well, the tenure-track placement rate for comms PhDs is 5%-ish, so their self-righteous glee will be short-lived n/t zazen Nov 2015 #53
Given how much there is in the news these days about minorities on college campuses mythology Nov 2015 #17
Sorry, but I do not agree that only trans people can talk about LGBQ people. Trans are not cis but Bluenorthwest Nov 2015 #51
err.... about that.... Adrahil Nov 2015 #52
Students need a professor Safe Space! snooper2 Nov 2015 #56
Message auto-removed Name removed Nov 2015 #57
Looks like mob mentality to me. kiva Nov 2015 #18
Some of these students are feeling empowered for the first times in their lives. Buzz Clik Nov 2015 #30
I agree. kiva Nov 2015 #41
Message auto-removed Name removed Nov 2015 #60
Good job mirt. You were faster than the jury. uppityperson Nov 2015 #62
Well THERE's an educated and grown-up response hifiguy Nov 2015 #61
I don't even know how one can utter that word. Not joking. WinkyDink Nov 2015 #20
Not even in an academic setting? Goblinmonger Nov 2015 #39
"In the beginning was the Word". It's an ancient concept. WinkyDink Nov 2015 #46
So you wouldn't read aloud from "To Kill a Mockingbird"? Nye Bevan Nov 2015 #50
I don't understand. Why did she use the word? Oneironaut Nov 2015 #21
She said she hadn't seen it spray painted anywhere. Buzz Clik Nov 2015 #27
You quoted something about a FERPA violation that was not in the article. Buzz Clik Nov 2015 #29
It is in the complaint letter (the other link) exboyfil Nov 2015 #34
She's toast in academia. This will follow her forever. mwrguy Nov 2015 #33
Funny exboyfil Nov 2015 #35
It's better than working in THAT enviroment FrodosPet Nov 2015 #49
Many vaguaries in play here and lots of details not given. Buzz Clik Nov 2015 #36
A rookie teaching mistake to be sure bluestateguy Nov 2015 #37
The controversy was over more than simply using the n-word in a discussion. LiberalAndProud Nov 2015 #40
Welp, THERE's academic freedom for you. hifiguy Nov 2015 #59


(65,616 posts)
1. Whaaaat? Sounds like she should not be teaching since she doesn't understand reality.
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 06:08 AM
Nov 2015

What the hell is she talking about? Has she ever read a book or watched TVEE in her life!?



(3,967 posts)
2. I would advise any white professor to stick to the course material
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 08:35 AM
Nov 2015

And to avoid racially controversial course material. She was teaching a course for grad students on best practices for teaching undergrads. She could have done that by talking about how to structure a syllabus, how to write comments on homework, how to make colorful PowerPoint slides. There was no reason for her to bring race into it. If university students are to hear about racial issues in the classroom, it should be from people highly trained in those issues and able to teach with proper sensitivity. Same goes for male professors and gender related material, and cis professors teaching LGBTQ related material. This professor may lose her job, butnhopefullyother professors will,learn from her poor choices.

a la izquierda

(11,817 posts)
3. I'm a white professor of Latin American history...
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 08:38 AM
Nov 2015

What am I supposed to do with slavery, do you suppose? Is that controversial?

Incidentally, this semester I showed a documentary called "Black in Latin America" instead of lecturing at my students.


(3,967 posts)
4. You should be extremely careful
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 08:46 AM
Nov 2015

If you are going to discuss racially disturbing topics like slavery, I would advise clearing them with our department chair at least. Does your university have a diversity office? You could also run your lesson plans by them. As good a professor as I am sure you are, you may not be aware of your own biases you bring to the class, and in any event, given that careers can be destroyed over classroom racial incidents, it would be wise to ensure that administration approves of your words. If you have that approval, ideally in writing, you are unlikely to face severe discipline if students file complaints over those words.


(17,880 posts)
9. Chilling effect on academic discourse
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 09:11 AM
Nov 2015

Huck Finn in literature?

Should sensitivity only extend to racial issues? How about sexual issues? Religion? Art?

50 Shades of Gray a valid topic but reasons for difficulty in retaining African American students is not?

These are graduate students not incoming Freshman.

So stay away from the topic and don't even think about it?


(3,967 posts)
10. Universities have policies.
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 09:20 AM
Nov 2015

on what is explicitly permitted, what is explicitly prohibited. Everything else is a grey area. If you feel the policy has a chilling effect and decide to go into the grey area or even into the forbidden zone, you do so at your own risk. Otherwise stay within the prescribed bounds of academic freedom at your institution, and don't try to define it for yourself. If you want to influence policies, there are official ways to do that.


Buzz Clik

(38,437 posts)
28. Hm. These students asked her how to talk about race in the classroom.
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 02:03 PM
Nov 2015

This is a graduate level communications class.

If not there, then nowhere?

The concept of a university education is being challenged with this.


(5,169 posts)
48. "prescribed bounds of academic freedom"??????????
Mon Nov 23, 2015, 07:45 AM
Nov 2015

WTF????????????????? Prescribed bounds of academic freedom???????????????????

Actually, it's more like


(3,967 posts)
55. how about "academic freedom zone"
Mon Nov 23, 2015, 04:48 PM
Nov 2015

Like how the government fences free speech zones where people can protest, including the person with the sign saying "America is a free speech zone."

If we as a society - and universities as institutions - want higher ed to be worth a damn, the university should be an academic freedom zone. but objectively, those zones are shrinking. for the kansas case, the academic freedom zone seems bounded.



(25,704 posts)
11. You act as if there is such a thing as free expression in academia
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 09:55 AM
Nov 2015

There is not. There is an academic culture. It is a set of beliefs. These are strictly enforced social norms. If you do not subscribe to these beliefs then it is wise to hold those opinions to yourself. If not, at a minimum ostracized but usually expelled from the group.

It is like being a Marine and being a pacifist.

Every culture has their taboos. There are some words people of pallor cannot use. Topics to be avoided.

This is not a poor white person post. These are the norms. Either you beleive or you don't.


(20,166 posts)
12. There is a text of Huck Finn that has THE WORD edited out of it
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 10:05 AM
Nov 2015

One of America's best Twain scholars, Alan Gribben, created it because more and more high schools and universities were not teaching it.


I'm an independent Twain scholar and have interacted with Alan, who edits the Mark Twain Journal and has been very supportive of my research. I've heard him give a talk on this "sanitized" book at a Twain conference. Personally, I don't agree with changing the text, but I completely understand why he did it.

Huck Finn is a crucial part of American and even world literature. I think in a perfect world, it would be taught by teachers who know how to place it within its proper context and would be able to foster discussion and debate around whether Huck and his creator were racists (and, big picture, America's own racist legacy).

Giving Huck a reading that goes beyond the superficial, it's pretty obvious that Huck comes to realize Jim's humanity and rejects the social conditioning of his racist society. In the novel's pivotal moment, he even chooses going to hell over betraying his friend (which is what his church has taught him will happen to people who help runaway slaves).

Twain, himself, was also not a racist and was rather progressive for his times. Not only did he marry into a family of abolitionists and were close friends with ministers who were instrumental in abolitionism and Emancipation, he also met and admired Fredrick Douglass and was in favor of reparations. He paid the tuition for one of Yale Law School's first African-American students (Warner Thornton McGuinn), who went on to be Thurgood Marshall's mentor.

It's very unfair to consider Twain a racist and I think it's a complete misreading of Huck Finn to call it an offensive and racist text. And although I like Chris Rock and Louis CK, I've seen routines of theirs about both Twain and Huck that were misinformed and erroneously portrayed Twain as a racist.

In a perfect world, they might have known better because Huck was properly taught in the classroom. However, we're obviously far from a perfect world, so maybe Gribben's approach is a sad compromise we have to make in order to keep this important text in the canon.


(118,566 posts)
47. That's a mistake IMO. Twain does a brilliant job of showing uneducated Huck
Mon Nov 23, 2015, 05:14 AM
Nov 2015

as a confused child of his times, trying to do his best despite his lack of experience and despite the vicious culture in which he was raised -- and in the end Huck comes across better than most everyone else:

Jim was gone! I set up a shout -- and then another one; and run this way and that in the woods, whooping and screeching; but it warn't no use -- old Jim was gone. Then I set down and cried; I couldn't help it. But I couldn't set still long. Pretty soon I went out on the road, trying to think what I better do, and I run across a boy walking, and asked him if he'd seen a strange nigger dressed so and so, and he says:


"Whereabouts?" says I.

"Down to Silas Phelps's place, two miles below here. He's a runaway nigger, and they've got him. Was you looking for him?"

"You bet I ain't! I run across him in the woods about an hour or two ago, and he said if I hollered he'd cut my livers out -- and told me to lay down and stay where I was; and I done it. Been there ever since; afeard to come out."

"Well," he says, "you needn't be afeard no more, becuz they've got him. He run f'm down South, som'ers."

"It's a good job they got him."

"Well, I reckon! There two hundred dollars reward on him. It's like picking up money out'n the road."

"Yes, it is -- and I could a had it if I'd been big enough; I see him first. Who nailed him?"

"It was an old fellow -- a stranger -- and he sold out his chance in him for forty dollars, becuz he's got to go up the river and can't wait. Think o' that, now! You bet I'd wait, if it was seven year."

"That's me, every time," says I. "But maybe his chance ain't worth no more than that, if he'll sell it so cheap. Maybe there's something ain't straight about it."

"But it is, though -- straight as a string. I see the handbill myself. It tells all about him, to a dot- paints him like a picture, and tells the plantation he's frum, below Newrleans. No-siree-bob, they ain't no trouble 'bout that speculation, you bet you. Say, gimme a chaw tobacker, won't ye?"

I didn't have none, so he left. I went to the raft, and set down in the wigwam to think. But I couldn't come to nothing. I thought till I wore my head sore, but I couldn't see no way out of the trouble. After all this long journey, and after all we'd done for them scoundrels, here was it all come to nothing, everything all busted up and ruined, because they could have the heart to serve Jim such a trick as that, and make him a slave again all his life, and amongst strangers, too, for forty dirty dollars.

Once I said to myself it would be a thousand times better for Jim to be a slave at home where his family was, as long as he's got to be a slave, and so I'd better write a letter to Tom Sawyer and tell him to tell Miss Watson where he was. But I soon give up that notion, for two things: she'd be mad and disgusted at his rascality and ungratefulness for leaving her, and so she'd sell him straight down the river again; and if she didn't, everybody naturally despises an ungrateful nigger, and they'd make Jim feel it all the time, and so he'd feel ornery and disgraced. And then think of me! It would get all around, that Huck Finn helped a nigger to get his freedom; and if I was to ever see anybody from that town again, I'd be ready to get down and lick his boots for shame. That's just the way: a person does a low-down thing, and then he don't want to take no consequences of it. Thinks as long as he can hide it, it ain't no disgrace. That was my fix exactly. The more I studied about this, the more my conscience went to grinding me, and the more wicked and low-down and ornery I got to feeling. And at last, when it hit me all of a sudden that here was the plain hand of Providence slapping me in the face and letting me know my wickedness was being watched all the time from up there in heaven, whilst I was stealing a poor old woman's nigger that hadn't ever done me no harm, and now was showing me there's One that's always on the lookout, and ain't agoing to allow no such miserable doings to go only just so fur and no further, I most dropped in my tracks I was so scared. Well, I tried the best I could to kinder soften it up somehow for myself, by saying I was brung up wicked, and so I warn't so much to blame; but something inside of me kept saying, "There was the Sunday school, you could a gone to it; and if you'd a done it they'd a learnt you, there, that people that acts as I'd been acting about that nigger goes to everlasting fire."

It made me shiver. And I about made up my mind to pray; and see if I couldn't try to quit being the kind of a boy I was, and be better. So I kneeled down. But the words wouldn't come. Why wouldn't they? It warn't no use to try and hide it from Him. Nor from me, neither. I knowed very well why they wouldn't come. It was because my heart warn't right; it was because I warn't square; it was because I was playing double. I was letting on to give up sin, but away inside of me I was holding on to the biggest one of all. I was trying to make my mouth say I would do the right thing and the clean thing, and go and write to that nigger's owner and tell where he was; but deep down in me I knowed it was a lie-and He knowed it. You can't pray a lie -- I found that out.

So I was full of trouble, full as I could be; and didn't know what to do. At last I had an idea; and I says, I'll go and write the letter -- and then see if I can pray. Why, it was astonishing, the way I felt as light as a feather, right straight off, and my troubles all gone. So I got a piece of paper and a pencil, all glad and excited, and set down and wrote:

Miss Watson your runaway nigger Jim is down here two mile below Pikesville and Mr. Phelps has got him and he will give him up for the reward if you send. HUCK FINN

I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now. But I didn't do it straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking -- thinking how good it was all this happened so, and how near I come to being lost and going to hell. And went on thinking. And got to thinking over our trip down the river; and I see Jim before me, all the time; in the day, and in the night-time, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we a floating along, talking, and singing, and laughing. But somehow I couldn't seem to strike no places to harden me against him, but only the other kind. I'd see him standing my watch on top of his'n, stead of calling me, so I could go on sleeping; and see him how glad he was when I come back out of the fog; and when I come to him agin in the swamp, up there where the feud was; and such-like times; and would always call me honey, and pet me, and do everything he could think of for me, and how good he always was; and at last I struck the time I saved him by telling the men we had smallpox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the only one he's got now; and then I happened to look around, and see that paper.

It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:

"All right, then, I'll go to hell" -- and tore it up.

It was awful thoughts, and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming. I shoved the whole thing out of my head; and said I would take up wickedness again, which was in my line, being brung up to it, and the other warn't. And for a starter, I would go to work and steal Jim out of slavery again; and if I could think up anything worse, I would do that, too; because as long as I was in, and in for good, I might as well go the whole hog.

Then I set to thinking over how to get at it, and turned over considerable many ways in my mind; and at last fixed up a plan that suited me.


(2,061 posts)
16. Chilling effect?
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 11:26 AM
Nov 2015

Chilling effect? It is the teacher's duty to avoid any offensive actions or words or even thoughts so that the delicate flowers they're teaching don't have to experience the real world until they're well into their 30s once they finally graduate.

Unless you're a member of the protected class, then you can do it. It used to be called segregation and it was bad, very bad. Now it's called a safe space and it's OK.


(6,843 posts)
13. If it has come to that, we have finally jumped the shark.
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 10:07 AM
Nov 2015

You know the old quote "those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it"? Is it really preferable to avoid a subject that SHOULD be covered? Slavery in New Spain was very different from the United States. It is actually a fascinating subject. It also shows how Saxons may be the most barbaric people in history. Slavery is part of the world's history from Rome to the New World. The Anglo Saxon version of it was deplorable. Erasing it from history does not mean it never happened.

a la izquierda

(11,817 posts)
42. You're joking, right.
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 09:11 PM
Nov 2015

I suppose, as a white person, I shouldn't teach anything but white girl history.



(65,616 posts)
31. LOL...okay this is just silly...would YOU say something as culturally insensitive as
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 02:35 PM
Nov 2015

'well I never see * spray panted on walls so I don't understand racism.'? That is as far as her myopic world reaches out?

I mean seriously, you are in the world of academia and you cannot use critical thinking skills? Something tells me you would NOT approach the subject as that teacher did!

She failed to use common sense and it cost her.

When I was teaching world history, I had no problems talking about societies and cultures...you just use common sense.

a la izquierda

(11,817 posts)
43. Clearly not
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 09:14 PM
Nov 2015

The woman is a moron.
My niece is mixed race and her idiot mother, my sister, won't talk to her about ethnicity. So I do, based on what I understand about it.

The day I can't teach what I've learned is the day I quit. Luckily, my African American students realize I am trying to be culturally sensitive and appreciate my trying to reach a difficult subject in a tense environment.



(65,616 posts)
45. I hear ya, most of my relatives are idiot tea party types.
Mon Nov 23, 2015, 01:54 AM
Nov 2015

And since this is south Texas...they are the majority. Good on ya for teaching...it is a wonderful profession!


(17,880 posts)
5. Do you feel it is a one and done situation?
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 08:47 AM
Nov 2015

Especially at a graduate level course I have to wonder about a fixed curriculum. Do you see it possibly leading to a chilling effect on class discourse? Participation and retention rates of a particular group of students probably has many causes.

I majored in engineering so we for the most part avoided controversial topics.


(3,967 posts)
7. The students are calling for her termination
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 08:54 AM
Nov 2015

She is suspended and has obtained a lawyer. So it looks like it can be a one and done situation. Especially because now whenever someone googles her, this is what will come up. If she is reinstated, she is unlikely to get tenure after this. If she is not, I don't know how she will find a comparable job. Maybe she can change her name and get a corporate job.

Should it be a one and done situation? In this case, it seems to me she was quite ignorant but ther isnt evidence her intention was malicious, so if there aren't other red flags (there may be) her university should have her undergo a substantial amount of sensitivity training and both keep her away from courses that would tend toward controversial material and instruct her to make efforts to avoid such material.

Response to 6chars (Reply #7)



(2,884 posts)
6. This professor may lose her job?
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 08:51 AM
Nov 2015

If that happens, it's going far too far.

The pendulum has swung too far on the side of 'protection' vs 'offense'.

Sack a teacher over the use of a word without intention to offend?

Brave New World..


(34,193 posts)
14. It appears diversity as it relates to classroom practices was on the syllabus and relevant
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 10:43 AM
Nov 2015

She most certainly could have expressed the same ideas with more finesse and less inflammatory. It's not innappriate to say that she dos the see overt racism on campus, but her word choice was poor and there may have been an received implication that racism therefore doesn't exist which is weak reasoning.

Having said that the students have a long list of complaints about poor teaching that don't involve race and this assistant prof maybe terrible at her job.bthe university may do well to dismiss her.

Under less politicized times the university might just fail to recommend faculty retention without a reason and she would just go away. Now, she may be made an example.


(3,967 posts)
15. kind of ironic
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 11:19 AM
Nov 2015

if she hadn't bothered to explain her own lack of personal experience with racism, she wouldn't have ventured into n-word territory and made the students so unsafe in the face of her verbal violence. sometimes discretion is the better part of valor.



(2,067 posts)
19. "so unsafe in the face of her verbal violence"
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 12:46 PM
Nov 2015

Wow, this wasn't a preschool class. If you don't think college students are mature enough to hear words that offend them, especially during a class discussion on that very topic, why are they even there?


(11,138 posts)
22. "made the students so unsafe in the face of her verbal violence"
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 12:57 PM
Nov 2015

You have GOT to be kidding me with this bullshit right here. Are you? Are you having a laugh here? Seems like an odd place to do that, but otherwise I don't know what to make of this.


(3,967 posts)
23. that was the students' wording.
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 12:59 PM
Nov 2015

maybe the students are having a laugh here. that's entirely possible.

my other comments in this thread can be read as advice for professors working in universities about how to avoid getting themselves in trouble. as to whether universities want to have policies that make this tradeoff of academic freedom for racial sensitivity, I guess that is up to the universities and I imagine there will be some variation and that will allow different universities to tout different educational experiences. The professor in this case apparently would have benefited from such advice about when to watch what she says. She seems to be a new professor.


(11,138 posts)
24. *shrug* You adopted the words as your own
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 01:31 PM
Nov 2015

If you wanted to attribute them to someone else you should have done so.

The issue here isn't whether professors know what topics to avoid, or what language to use, to avoid getting into trouble. I think the issue is whether those topics or language should be taboo in the first place. I am not privy to the minutiae in this particular case but I have seen no evidence that the professor spoke in a racist fashion, and yet it is generally assumed in this thread that her career is irreparably harmed by this incident. Why? Should it be? How far is too far? Am I to be thrown under the bus as well for even asking?


(3,967 posts)
25. should vs. will
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 01:37 PM
Nov 2015

of course her career should not be irreparably harmed by this. it is about as sensible as ruining someone's life for smoking pot. The students - who wish to enter the same career - do seem to be taking undue glee in the prospect of destroying her career.
but given that this is the environment where she and others are working, it is best for professors to understand the rules of their given work place.

here are some of the minutiae (good word!). in her graduate communications class on undergraduate teaching practices, she was covering diversity and a student asked about the recent incidents at university of missouri. she said "As a white woman I just never have seen the racism…It’s not like I see ‘N_ [the professor used the full word] spray painted on walls…” (this is something from the comments to the posted newspaper article, and taken verbatim from the student complaint letter). She was referring to something that happened in Missouri. Doesn't sound like David Duke territory to me.


(2,978 posts)
53. well, the tenure-track placement rate for comms PhDs is 5%-ish, so their self-righteous glee will be short-lived n/t
Mon Nov 23, 2015, 09:16 AM
Nov 2015


(9,527 posts)
17. Given how much there is in the news these days about minorities on college campuses
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 11:48 AM
Nov 2015

I would argue in a class about how to be a TA, that this should be in the course.

I don't know enough to know how she handled it as all we are getting are two sides with no objective observer. But the students are clearly overreacting calling this racial discrimination. They aren't accusing her of doing anything that would qualify as discrimination. She's not failing just the black student, she's not accused of saying that the black student isn't good enough. She hurt their feelings. They didn't think that she considered institutional racism the primary cause of minority students not graduating when she is on the committee dedicated to student retention and so has actual evidence that the students don't.

The students demanded that she shut up and listen, but refused to have the same courtesy and wouldn't listen to her. It's fine to do that, but you don't then get to lay claim to martyrdom, especially not after having a town hall meeting where you got to tell your side of the story with no input from the person you're accusing.

But I find the idea that we need somebody with special training and "proper sensitivity" to be incredibly silly. These are grown ups. They aren't in kindergarten. What happens when they get into the real world and realize that no, the real world isn't always nice, it doesn't always kowtow to their demands? If these kids can't handle having their views challenged where the consequences are so low, how are they going to deal with it when the consequences are high?



(45,319 posts)
51. Sorry, but I do not agree that only trans people can talk about LGBQ people. Trans are not cis but
Mon Nov 23, 2015, 08:39 AM
Nov 2015

the rest of us are cis gender. A gay man teaching gay studies is both appropriate and cis.



(13,340 posts)
52. err.... about that....
Mon Nov 23, 2015, 08:50 AM
Nov 2015

Sometimes the course material IS racially controversial.

My wife is a 19th-century British Literature professor. Race IS an issue in those works at times. Even more so for her American Lit colleagues.

Academics MUST be able to discuss complex social issues in the right context. They even need to be able to screw up sometimes.

Response to 6chars (Reply #2)


(4,373 posts)
18. Looks like mob mentality to me.
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 11:49 AM
Nov 2015
"Quenette had prepared a statement of her own to clarify her comments and apologize.

But she said several students said they didn’t want to hear her apology.

“Someone said, ‘No, this is over,’ and they all got up and left,” Quenette said.

Schumacher said students insisted Quenette read their letter aloud “to make sure that she got it.”


Jyleesa Hampton has been one of the main tweeters for #FireAndreaQuenette.

Hampton, a first-year communications graduate student, is not in Quenette’s class but did sign the letter demanding her termination. Hampton said she is one of two black students in the 13-student cohort, and after the Nov. 12 class several students immediately rushed to her office to tell her what had happened.

So someone who wasn't in the class where the professor made the comments is leading the social media massacre squad, backed by students who are too upset to listen to an apologize but insist on forcing the professor to read their letter of accusations aloud.

Quenette may the the most clueless and stupid professor alive, but the students are examples of the special snowflake meme and will result in more snark about college students being "too sensitive".

Buzz Clik

(38,437 posts)
30. Some of these students are feeling empowered for the first times in their lives.
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 02:27 PM
Nov 2015

But, they have no idea how to handle this power. We saw this in Missouri, too.

The university needs to quit cowering at some point and let the students know that their is not power has its limitations and the abuse of power has strong consequences.


(4,373 posts)
41. I agree.
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 08:31 PM
Nov 2015

In this article it sounds like the professor asked for leave; I hope so, and I hope all legitimate university procedures are followed if there is an attempt to oust her.

Response to kiva (Reply #18)



(33,688 posts)
61. Well THERE's an educated and grown-up response
Tue Nov 24, 2015, 08:09 PM
Nov 2015

But she said several students said they didn’t want to hear her apology.

“Someone said, ‘No, this is over,’ and they all got up and left,” Quenette said.

Holy christ. Unfuckingbelievable.



(51,311 posts)
46. "In the beginning was the Word". It's an ancient concept.
Mon Nov 23, 2015, 04:58 AM
Nov 2015

I'd be VERY reluctant to have a white woman lead that "academic discussion" (of which there is ZERO need, except to the disingenuous).

Nye Bevan

(25,406 posts)
50. So you wouldn't read aloud from "To Kill a Mockingbird"?
Mon Nov 23, 2015, 08:35 AM
Nov 2015
"Scout," said Atticus, "nigger-lover is just one of those terms that don't mean anything—like snot-nose. It's hard to explain—ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody's favoring Negroes over and above themselves. It's slipped into usage with some people like ourselves, when they want a common, ugly term to label somebody."

"You aren't really a nigger-lover, then, are you?"

"I certainly am. I do my best to love everybody... I'm hard put, sometimes—baby, it's never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn't hurt you."

Or would you literally say "n-word-lover" if you were reading this passage aloud?


(5,615 posts)
21. I don't understand. Why did she use the word?
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 12:52 PM
Nov 2015

Was she quoting something? Was she reading a book? Did she say people use the word? The context is important.

If she were reading an old text or something, I would be on the professor's side. If she just used it in a racist way, I would be on the students' side.


(17,880 posts)
35. Funny
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 05:27 PM
Nov 2015

I went to High School there (lived there from Summer 78- Summer 81). Other than some friends have no other connection to the community.


(5,169 posts)
49. It's better than working in THAT enviroment
Mon Nov 23, 2015, 08:10 AM
Nov 2015

One would have to be insane to be a teacher in 2015. Every word, inflection, grunt, facial expression analyzed for something to destroy you with? No thank you.


Buzz Clik

(38,437 posts)
36. Many vaguaries in play here and lots of details not given.
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 06:11 PM
Nov 2015

The letter of complaint makes some alarming claims for which specifics were not given in the newspaper article. If these claims are true, the professor is in deep trouble.

There is a process present for such complaints, and the studnets and professor will have ample opportunity to make their cases. We may never know all there is to know.


(44,173 posts)
37. A rookie teaching mistake to be sure
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 06:22 PM
Nov 2015

but context always matters and intent matters.

And what she did was not even close to a fireable offense.

These kids wont last 5 minutes in the real world with this kind of hypersensitivity.


(12,799 posts)
40. The controversy was over more than simply using the n-word in a discussion.
Sun Nov 22, 2015, 07:09 PM
Nov 2015

From your link.

Schumacher, who is also white, described Quenette’s interactions during the conversation as “disparaging” and “deeply disturbing.”

“They articulated not only her lack of awareness of racial discrimination and violence on this campus and elsewhere but an active denial of institutional, structural and individual racism,” Schumacher wrote in the letter signed by the students in the class, plus one other graduate student. “This denial perpetuates racism in and of itself.”

I'm fairly certain I'd have a problem with her as a class instructor.



(33,688 posts)
59. Welp, THERE's academic freedom for you.
Tue Nov 24, 2015, 08:05 PM
Nov 2015

The context is given. There's no excuse for suspending this professor.

Disgusting. Sickening.

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