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Seattle University has placed Jodi Kelly, dean of the university's humanities college, on leave, with a student sit-in that is seeking her ouster now more than three weeks old, The Seattle Times reported. The sit-in is demanding numerous changes to make the curriculum of the humanities college more multicultural. But students have also demanded Kelly's ouster, saying she has used a slur against black people. Kelly has said that she does not use that word to refer to anyone, but that she did use it to describe the book Nigger, the autobiography of Dick Gregory, the civil rights activist and biographer. Gregory, in an essay in Inside Higher Ed, has defended her.

Seattle's interim provost, Bob Dullea, said of Kelly's leave: “I have taken this action because I believe, based on information that has come forward over the past several weeks, that successful operations of the college at this time require that she step away from day-to-day management and oversight." He said this information would be investigated. Kelly could not be reached for comment.

While hundreds have signed a petition supporting the sit-in, a counterpetition is attracting support for Kelly. "Jodi has dedicated her life to students. She is a strong, intelligent, open-minded woman who has helped many students on their educational paths," says the petition.