KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee said it is taking action to move forward after a faculty member wrote a racist acronym on a whiteboard in an Africana Studies class during a discussion about the complexity of language in the context of race relations.
Officials apologized last week after a student posted a tweet showing the acronym and tagged the University of Tennessee in it.
Eleven student groups at the University of Tennessee called on the school's leadership to fire the faculty member after the incident.
On Sunday, university leaders said they "acknowledge that presentation of a racial epithet, even within the learning context, has the power to injure" and would take decisive action that is "thoughtful, informed, and principled."
The faculty member will work with the university’s Office of Teaching and Learning Innovation for the next two weeks to "improve her presentation of difficult, potentially painful topics in a way that is sensitive to the history and lived experiences of her students and the broader community," according to UT. Another instructor will teach the class during that time.
Officials said the Division of Diversity and Engagement and the Division of Student Life will work with the Africana Studies program on opportunities for students and student organizations to discuss what happened. The Student Counseling Center and the Office of the Dean of Students is also offering support resources.
The university said it has not received bias reports from students present in the class but has been monitoring concerned posts from students on social media. Officials said the Division of Student Life and/or the Office of Equity and Diversity will respond to any reports.
UT also said it will continue to support the Africana Studies program and the efforts to turn the program into an official department.
You can read more about the situation on the university's website.