Duquesne University: Professor Suspended for Discussing Impropriety of Racial Slur in Class


Duquesne University

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Case Overview

FIRE Victory closed

In September 2020, Duquesne University suspended education psychology professor Gary Shank after a student posted a recording of Shank’s class to Twitter, in which Shank repeated the word ‘nigger’ while discussing why use of the word in most contexts is considered inappropriate. Duquesne, while private, makes strong promises of free speech and academic freedom to their faculty. FIRE wrote to Duquesne explaining that it is morally and legally bound to keep those promises and reinstate Shank. On October 7, Duquesne officially terminated Shank. On February 5, 2021, after Shank retained counsel, Duquesne reinstated Shank on the recommendation of a faculty grievance committee, on the condition Shank take mandatory diversity training.