Over the weekend, a video of an American University student using a racist slur went viral on Twitter. Vice President of Campus Life and Inclusive Excellence Fanta Aw issued a statement emphasizing that AU doesn’t condone the use of racist language and understands its harmful effect.
“These situations challenge our community and are painful,” Aw wrote in a memo to the campus community. “We remain committed to building an inclusive community where every member feels valued and is treated with respect and dignity.”
Provost Daniel Myers and Dean of Academic Affairs Mary Clark informed the faculty of the incident and encouraged conversation about racist language and free speech inside and outside the classroom. They also suggested faculty consult with the Provost’s Office and the Center for Teaching, Research and Learning.
While AU values and upholds the right of free expression, as Aw noted, “It is vital that we recognize the historical context of the language we use. A slur that has been used in the context of racism, bigotry, discrimination and violence does harm when it is used without understanding its context and painful impact on members of our community.”