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Professor Who Said N-Word Twice Reinstated

March 13, 2020

Paul Zwier, a professor of law at Emory University who was suspended twice in 2018 for using the N-word in front of students in discussing a 1967 legal case, and then again when discussing students' objections to it, will be reinstated. This follows the recommendation of a faculty committee that reviewed his case. In a statement, Zwier said he seeks to “bring this matter to closure for our entire university in a thoughtful and healing way.”

Mary Bobinski, dean of law at Emory, said in a campus memo that the N-word “carries with it the potential for harm, including the disruption or destruction of an inclusive learning environment for students, whatever the motivation of the speaker.” No words are banned at Emory, she said, but those such as the one in question must be uttered only for a clear pedagogical reason.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education wrote to Emory in Zwier’s defense. Alex Morey, an attorney at FIRE, said in an analysis that once it was “clear” that Zwier’s classroom speech “was relevant to the matter he was discussing, and didn’t come close to approaching discriminatory harassment, Emory should have ended its inquiry.”

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