Princeton University Professor Emeritus Lawrence Rosen has cancelled the class for the rest of the semester after receiving widespread criticism for using the n-word in a lecture, Inside Higher Ed reported.
During a lecture on oppressive symbolism on Feb. 6, the anthropology professor asked his class, “What is worse, a white man punching a black man, or a white man calling a black man a n****r?” After repeating the racial slur three times and refusing to apologize, four students from the class walked out in protest, The Daily Princetonian reported.
“The professor didn’t seem to consider the fact that obviously repeatedly saying the n-word, while it makes everyone uncomfortable, would affect the black people in the class on a far deeper level,” Princeton student Destiny Salter said to the Huffington Post.
One male student confronted the professor and shouted an obscenity at him. Two students later filed a complaint against Rosen to the Princeton administration, the New York Daily News reported.
Princeton administrators have spoken out in defense of Rosen.
"The values of free speech and inclusivity are central to Princeton University's mission and critical to the education we provide to our students," University spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss said to the Associated Press. "The conversations and disagreements that took place in the seminar led by Professor Rosen (last week) are part of the vigorous engagement and robust debate that are central to what we do."
Princeton's Anthropology department chair Carolyn Rouse wrote an Op Ed in The Daily Princetonian in defense of Rosen.
“I feel bad for the students who left the class not trusting the process,” she said to The Daily Princetonian. “Rosen was fighting battles for women, Native Americans, and African-Americans before these students were born.”
Carolyn Rouse, chairwoman of Princeton’s Anthropology Department, added that Rosen had previously given the same lecture at both Princeton University and Columbia Law School, but his use of the n-word has never invited similar backlash. She also said that he decided to cancel the class voluntarily for the rest of the semester even though she had encouraged him not to.
Rosen's course, Anthropology 212: "Cultural Freedoms: Hate Speech, Blasphemy and Pornography," will be offered again next year by another professor.
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