REPORT: Law students come after White classmate who read aloud racial epithet as written in case
Chaos ensued after a law student read from course materials that included a racial epithet.
Campus Reform has reported on several similar incidents, many of which ended in the disciplining of academics.
Chaos ensued at Rutgers University after a White law student read a racial epithet — as written in course materials — aloud during virtual office hours.
As the New York Times reports, a first-year law student at Rutgers Law School enrolled in a criminal law course repeated a line from a 1993 legal opinion that included the “n-word.”
The student was reportedly evidently hesitant to use the word, but decided to proceed since the opinion utilized the epithet.
A group of Black students reportedly began circulating a petition calling for apologies from the student and Professor Vera Bergelson.
“At the height of a ‘racial reckoning,’ a responsible adult should know not to use a racial slur regardless of its use in a 1993 opinion,” reads the petition. “We vehemently condemn the use of the N-word by the student and the acquiescence of its usage.”
Bergelson reportedly did not hear the student quote the epithet; nevertheless, she hosted a meeting of the criminal law class to provide her apologies.
“I wish I could go back in time to that office hour and confront it directly,” Bergelson told the New York Times.
Bergelson told Campus Reform that the student had no malicious purposes in quoting the epithet.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the student had no racist intent, and the fact that, given a chance, I would have corrected the student reflects only my personal pedagogical choices and not any doubt in the student's good faith,” she stated. “It is unfortunate that this incident has been allowed to develop into a major controversy that is likely to harm the student and the law school.”
Over the past several years, Campus Reform has reported on several similar incidents.
For instance, an Emory University professor was temporarily suspended from teaching duties after he quoted the “n-word” in an academic context. He was also subjected to “sensitivity and unconscious bias training."
Students reported a constitutional law professor at Wake Forest University for reading the “n-word” from a Supreme Court case footnote. The Dean of Law reprimanded the professor, although he faced no further punishment.
Campus Reform reached out to Rutgers Law School and Bergelson for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.
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