Andrea Quenette / The Lawrence Journal-World

Andrea Quenette, assistant professor of communication studies at Kansas University, has been put on leave after using the n-word during a class. The class, compromised of 1 black student and 9 white students, complained to the university after Quenette used the word.

The 33-year-old professor was teaching her Communications Studies 930 course, and on November 12th, a student sparked a conversation about how to address issues of racism in the classroom.

Quenette says she used the word only as an example of the incidents that have been going on around other university campuses.

“As a white woman I just never have seen the racism … It’s not like I see ‘N–ger’ spray painted on walls,” Quenette said during her lecture.

Students filed a formal complaint and used the hashtag #FireAndreaQuenette on Twitter to draw attention to the matter. Students also shared a lengthy letter online and complained about her in a Student Senate meeting.

Quenette defended her use of the word in an interview with a local newspaper.

“I haven’t seen those things happen, I haven’t seen that word spray-painted on our campus,” she told the Lawrence Journal-World. “I haven’t seen students physically assaulted. Quenette added that she would have apologized at the time if anyone had seemed put off or spoken up, but people kept silent.

“I didn’t intend to offend anyone, I didn’t intend to hurt anyone. I didn’t direct my words at any individual or group of people,” she told the Journal-World.

“It was an open conversation about a serious issue that is affecting our campus, and it will affect our teachers. In that regard, I consider it within my purview … to talk about those issues.”

But one student saw it differently.

“It was outright racism,” said Amy Schumacher, a first-year Ph.D. student said. “I don’t think that it was an open dialogue — she wasn’t receptive to hearing any other ideas.”

Quenette is currently on leave and fears that she’ll lose her job. She and her husband has set up a GoFundMe account to help with their legal proceedings during the KU investigation.

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  • [email protected]

    something is just not right in a society where a person career and livelihood can be ruin just because they said a “word”, something is just not right about that, to me a black man that’s taking things too far and it will come back and bite us in the asset.

    • Noirluv45

      Why are Blacks to blame? It appears that other non-Black students were offended and they all protested. One must be careful about what they say and the context for which they say things.

    • [email protected]

      true very true but obviously she is niave and made a mistake without “malice” should it rise to the level of firing, one losing their livelihood? I am black and I am not blaming black people. All I am saying we need to be careful with this cause we make mistakes also and I wouldn’t want to see black people lose a career because of the slip of the tongue. On issue like this I think someone or some group is using us as a shield to further their own agenda.

    • cabugs

      I was just talking to my roommate about this a few days ago. It will surely come back to bite us in the asses. I do not feel like writing the whole essay on what we discussed, but here is something black people and liberal allies have to think about: censorship is not ideal for anyone – we should not censor white people either. If you disagree with what they are saying, an institution of higher education is a place to debate it respectfully. The only time when censoring or removing them is required (very rarely) is if a credible threat is made to your person. It’s a scary world we’re living in when we are literally ushering ourselves into the hands of a totalitarian police state where freedom of thought is a crime. We will surely pay.

    • [email protected]

      you are exactly right, and this surely will come back to bits us black people in the @$$, some well meaning black person will be targeted for the slip of their tongue and lose their job, home and black children may be displace just because of the slip of the tongue without “malice” and some of these brain dead black liberals will say they deserve to lose their jobs because he/she shouldn’t have said it. The only way we are going to get out of this mess is we are going to have to start doing critical thinking and stop following other who don’t really mean us any good.

    • Cocoa Rose

      Ummm blacks do lose their livelihoods from word and because someone felt threatened.

    • [email protected]

      Exactly Sister.

    • [email protected]

      yep and a lot more will if we keep on co-signing on to this new political correct non sense.

  • Mico

    The only excusable instance of using that word or other slurs in a classroom setting is when directly quoting from a text. From the context presented here and her comments afterwards, it seems as if she may have forgotten what setting she was in. It also appears that she uses that word frequently and may have also stated that same argument to a friend or colleague. By her own statements, she is invalidating black students’ experiences by stating that she doesn’t see any racist acts (or doesn’t acknowledge the acts that the students are talking about as racist). She does this and also clearly made at least the one black student in her classroom sit through a hostile learning environment. This ‘discussion’ seems more like one way communication of the professor’s ideals and wasn’t necessary to have inside of the classroom. This is especially true when you consider that she is more concerned with her rights as a professor than that of actually facilitating dialogue about the cause and effects of student protesting on the actual students. Using that word outside of the proper context counts as hate speech and in combination with her other words created a harassing, hostile work/educational environment, so yes imo she does deserve to be fired.

    • elle D.

      Write On Sister Mico!