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Duquesne University Fires Professor For Repeated Use of Racial Slur During Virtual Class

Duquesne University has fired an education professor for “serious misconduct,” having suspended him less than a month ago for using a racial slur in a virtual lecture related to race, the Tribune-Review reported.

Dr. Gary ShankDr. Gary Shank

“We have 30 days to grieve the termination and certainly will do so,”  Warner Mariani, the attorney for Dr. Gary Shank told the Tribune-Review.

Shank has been on paid leave since Sept. 11, when video of the controversial portions of his Sept. 9 educational psychology class was posted to Twitter, igniting criticism from students, alumni and community members.

During the class, Shank – who is White – gave students “permission” to use the N-word “in a pedagogical sense.” He went on to use the slur a number of times, saying that he was demonstrating how it was “a very commonly used word” when he was younger.

Duquesne put Shank on paid leave after learning of his use of the slur multiple times during the presentation, later giving him the chance to resign or face the dismissal process.

Mariani said at the time that Shank had no intention of resigning.

The penalties on Shank have been met with opposition from civil liberties advocates, who say that it may be precedent-setting and violate Duquesne’s academic freedom rules.

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) says that Shank’s use of the slur was “not conduct directed in an insulting manner at any particular student” and was not discriminatory conduct or harassment.

Shank’s termination letter –signed by Dr. David J. Dausey, Duquesne executive vice president and provost – states that “the decision was made after reviewing a report by School of Education Dean Gretchen Generett and determining that Shank had violated rules in the faculty handbook,” according to the Tribune-Review.

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