Special:Badtitle/NS100:Art Department Racial Slur Incident

In spring 2004, a Professor of Art used the word "nigger" in a Department meeting, touching off much campus discussion and several all-campus emails.

The incident was first drawn to students' attention by an email from President Morton Owen Schapiro, containing a preface announcing the beginning of what would be called the Diversity Initiatives, and in which he delivered a communication from then Acting Dean of Faculty, Bill Lenhart. Lenhart's text stated that a professor had

raised a concern about the status of her own field of professional work relative to the fields of the others. At one point, she made a heated statement to the effect that she did not want her field to be "used as a nigger." (email to williams-students from Schapiro, Sep 10 2004)

Lenhart stated that he had investigated the incident and imposed sanctions on the offending professor, whose identity was announced to the community in an email from Lenhart on the 23rd. He announced then as well that a discrimination grievance had been filed. On November 1st, the public portion of the proceedings were officially concluded in two emails from the offender, one to her offended colleague and one to the community at large.

The event generated a high volume of public discussion of the incident and more generally of issues of tolerance and diversity at Williams. The Committee on Community and Diversity, the Multicultural Center, and the office of Human Resources were formally asked by Schapiro to contribute guidance to wise development from the matter. Informally, discussion was widespread among students at the event's outset, most publicly in The Record, on WSO blogs and Ephblog.

See also:

  • "Racial slur leads to faculty sanction", The Record, September 14, 2004
  • Ali names art department in slur incident", The Record, September 21, 2004
  • "Laleian steps forward to curb speculation", The Record, September 28, 2004
  • "Laleian apologizes to Ali and campus", The Record, November 2, 2004
  • Media:William_Lenhart_to_the_Williams_Community_-_1_November_2004.txt