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.