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NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – An OU journalism professor is in hot water for saying a racial slur during class on Tuesday. 

A student that was in the class tells News 4 it started as a discussion about using social media to show bias in students. 

She says Dr. Peter Gade thought that was a nice way of saying “OK, Boomer,” he then compared that phrase to using the n-word.  

“The one that ended with an R. Like old south n-word,” Sarah Beth Guevara told News 4. “We were all shocked. We never expected that to come out of the mouth of a professor that we all respect, and frankly Gaylord deserves better than that.”

Guevara says one student called out Gade, telling him he shouldn’t use the word, while another just walked out of class.  

“On their way out Dr. Gade said ‘never have I been so disrespected in my life.’ Which really had me taken aback because he’s never been so disrespected in his life?!”

Guevara says Gade spent the rest of the class trying to get everyone back on track and even used free speech to justify what he said. 

She says Gade eventually apologized very briefly at the end of class.  

Gade has been a member of the faculty since 1998, and Guevara says no journalism student can graduate without taking his class.

In response to Gade using the slur during a class, the OU Black Emergency Response Team made a statement on Twitter:

“We do not condone or accept this behavior from any member of the OU community regardless of occupation or student status. This will not be tolerated or accepted and we expect full action to be taken against the professor and college.  In addition, we expect accommodation for the students who have experienced trauma because of this.”

@BERT_OU via Twitter

University of Oklahoma Interim President Joseph Harroz released the following statement…

Today a professor stated in his senior journalism class that there is an equivalence between the offensiveness of “OK, Boomer” and the use of the “N-word,” using the actual word itself. While the professor’s comments are protected by the First Amendment and academic freedom, his comment and word choice are fundamentally offensive and wrong. The use of the most offensive word, by a person in a position of authority, hurt and minimized those in the classroom and beyond. Our University must serve as an example to our society of both freedom of expression and understanding and tolerance. His words today failed to meet this standard. #WeAre speaks for our community; his words today do not. An OU spokeswoman told News 4 that the university’s investigation is ongoing, and the school is determining what the next steps will be.

University of Oklahoma Interim President Joseph Harroz

The University went on to say:

While the First Amendment protects the professor from sanction, at OU we work as a community to address serious matters such as this one. Great universities do not simply reflect society, we create better societies. Throughout the day, Gaylord College and administrative leadership have met with many students, as well as the faculty member in question, to begin addressing the very real concerns around this issue. On Thursday, the class itself will have the opportunity to meet with Gaylord College leadership to voice concerns and have a conversation about moving forward. We are better together, and together we will learn and grow from events such as this. 

Statement from the University of Oklahoma’s Media Relations office

A woman who said she’s a University of Oklahoma student posted the following message on Twitter:

Gade sent an apology to students. The apology is as follows:

“Journalism students,

I made an inexcusable mistake this morning in class with my choice of a word.

I was wrong. I am sorry.

I realize the word is hurtful and infuses the racial divisions of our country, past and present. Use of this word is inappropriate in any – especially educational – settings.

I offer my deepest and most sincere apologies. In the coming weeks, I will strive to show you that I am an instructor and teacher who is trustworthy and respectful of all. Please give me that opportunity.

P. Gade”

Apology to students from Dr. Peter Gade