UOttawa professor’s use of racial slur brings up freedom of expression debate

October 22, 2020

34 University of Ottawa professors have signed a letter supporting a part-time UOttawa instructor who used a racial slur as an example of a word that a community has reclaimed. The letter said that “certain lectures, certain concepts, certain words will hurt some susceptibilities,” but that universities are places where these topics can be freely discussed. CBC reports that UOttawa’s student union finds the professors’ stance “appalling,” explaining that “they’ve found their voice in defending the use of a racial slur while discounting the vast majority of uOttawa’s Black community’s disagreement.” UOttawa students are requesting the implementation of a campus-wide zero-tolerance policy on the use of the word. Jacques Frémont, UOttawa’s President and Vice-Chancellor, responded to student concerns saying that “the right to freedom of expression and the right to dignity are not contradictory principles, but complementary.” Ottawa Citizen | CBC | UOttawa (ON)