University of Rochester: Professor Suspended for Quoting Racial Slur in Class


University of Rochester

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Case Overview

FIRE Victory closed

On September 21, 2021, University of Rochester English Professor David Bleich read aloud from Harvard Law School Professor Randall Kennedy’s article about whether it is “acceptable for pedagogical purposes to enunciate the epithet ‘nigger’,” enunciating the word himself, following a class discussion about the issue. Bleich did so to prepare students for a discussion on the word’s use in Ann Petry’s “Like a Winding Sheet.” After a student complained, Bleich was suspended from teaching. On December 6, FIRE wrote to UR to explain that because the university promises faculty they enjoy academic freedom, it cannot impinge on professors’ right to pedagogical autonomy.