To the Editor:
Randall Kennedy’s essay, “How a Dispute Over the N-Word Became a Dispiriting Farce” (The Chronicle, February 8), includes and perpetuates inaccurate information about the scenario at Augsburg University.
The fact is, the university’s actions are in response to a wide-ranging set of concerns (concerns which remain confidential), and not a reaction to the single classroom incident that has been publicly described. Kennedy’s piece links to Augsburg’s statement that explains this, but he still rests his judgment on the idea that there was some sort of “punishment” for the specific classroom situation. Kennedy even goes so far as to note in his second line that the news reports about the situation are “undisputed.”
We disagree — both with how a number of news reports have characterized the scenario and with the notion that those reports are undisputed. The irony is what we don’t disagree with: We don’t disagree about the importance of engaging in difficult conversations as part of the learning process. In fact, we welcome those conversations. And we recognize the chilling effect that could result from sanctioning a professor simply for using provocative speech in context in a classroom. But that is not the whole story in this case.
Vice President, Marketing and Communication