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Duquesne Suspends Professor Who Used N-Word in Class

September 14, 2020

Duquesne University has placed an education professor on paid leave pending an investigation after short videos circulated on social media showing him using a racial slur in class, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

In one of the videos, the professor, Gary Shank, says, “I’m giving you permission to use the word, OK? Because we’re using the word in a pedagogical sense. What’s the one word about race that we’re not allowed to use?”

“I’ll give you a hint. It starts with ‘N.’ … It’s even hard to say, OK? But, I’ll tell you the word, and again, I’m not using it any way other than to demonstrate a point. Fair enough?”

In the other video, Shank said the word was commonly heard in his youth and gave examples of how it was used, asking students if the usage would be acceptable today.

The Post-Gazette could not immediately reach Shank for comment. Shank did not respond to an email from Inside Higher Ed on Sunday.

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Elizabeth Redden

Elizabeth Redden, Senior Reporter, covers general higher education topics, religion and higher education, and international higher education for Inside Higher Ed. She has more than a decade of experience as an education journalist. She holds an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing from Columbia University.

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