Andrea Quenette, a White assistant professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas, was placed on paid leave while the university investigates a complaint that she used the word “nigger” in the classroom. The graduate class of 10 students taught by Dr. Quenette included one African American.
Five students filed a racial discrimination complaint with the university’s Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access. In a letter to the campus community, students in the class stated that Dr. Quenette said, “As a White woman I just never have seen the racism…It’s not like I see ‘Nigger’ spray painted on walls.”
In the letter, the students wrote: “Dr. Quenette indicated that because she has not experienced or witnessed discrimination, it is not happening at KU. She asked for more evidence, and was dismissive of the multiple examples provided. These comments demonstrate not only an unwillingness to accept evidence contrary to her own ideas and experiences but also exemplify the dismissal and questioning of minority students’ experiences that has reinforced the very structural discrimination they seek to destroy by speaking up.”