A professor from the University of Oklahoma is in hot water after he equated the phrase, "OK Boomer" with the N-word.
To make matters worse, according to a memo written by the university's Interim President Joseph Harroz Jr., the professor compared the two phrases by using the "actual word itself."
"OK Boomer" is a recent catchphrase and meme used by younger generations to belittle baby boomers – individuals who were born between 1946 and 1964.
The phrase used to ridicule a baby boomer typically follows a naive and out of touch comment, but its jeering nature pales in comparison to the defamatory tone of the ethnic slur.
Peter Gade was identified as the Journalism Ethics and Democracy professor who made the comparison in the capstone course required for journalism students to take in order to graduate.
University of Oklahoma denounces professor who compared 'OK, Boomer' to N-word https://t.co/bEIrxrM7DS— NBC News (@NBC News)1581542411.0
According to the university paper – the OU Daily – Gade was discussing changes and trends in journalism in the social media age and insisted that journalism must stick to its more traditional roots.
But when Gade called on a student who suggested that journalists need to keep up with younger generations, he said the student's comment was like the equivalent of saying, "OK Boomer."
"Calling someone a boomer is like calling someone a n-----."
“Calling someone a boomer is like calling someone a (n-word),” [Peter] Gade said. Get this crotchety crypt keeper… https://t.co/kBys34L7HA— Nosferatu the Vampyre Weekend (@Nosferatu the Vampyre Weekend)1581453652.0
Some students allegedly left the classroom after Gade's offensive comment and took to Twitter to share what happened.
Yesterday, I witnessed Peter Gade use the n-word during my capstone class. I still cannot believe that he not only… https://t.co/6FJ3GQMo5R— Bailey Lewis (@Bailey Lewis)1581537265.0
Today at 10:05 a.m. my journalism capstone professor Peter Gade said the n-word after emphasizing in class over the… https://t.co/8G8BZ9WkFe— abigail. (@abigail.)1581465909.0
Myself and four other students spoke with the (white male) head dean of the college shortly after the incident and… https://t.co/Wwx7c2UPTp— abigail. (@abigail.)1581465911.0
As shocked and appalled as I was at the faculty who uttered the slur, I am livid that the immediate response from t… https://t.co/A3RptNwxKR— abigail. (@abigail.)1581465911.0
that he felt he could utter a slur in a classroom setting and get away with it. 4/— abigail. (@abigail.)1581465911.0
Another outraged student tweeted:
"My f*cking professor just had the NERVE to say OUTLOUD IN CLASS that calling someone a Boomer is like calling a black person A N***ER..."
Although he was not talking directly to me or my other two colleagues who are also black, I am still deeply offende… https://t.co/aNGjV1LUtQ— Janae (@Janae)1581440484.0
Yes, the word ‘BOOMER’ can be offensive, but it however is NOT a racial slur. They are nowhere near equal.— Janae (@Janae)1581441109.0
In the statement, Harroz Jr. denounced the spurned professor.
"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."
Molly Kruse – an assistant culture editor for the paper – told NBC News that she immediately told Gade he should never use the racial slur.
The 21-year-old senior – who does not identify herself as a person of color – said:
"I just told him that I didn't think he should be using that word and I asked him if he thought that elderly people had been as oppressed in our society as black people have been."
Ed Kelley, dean of Gaylord College, OU's journalism school, organized a meeting with students to discuss the incident and its impact.
"We wanted to hear from (the students) exactly, not only what was said, but in the context what was said. And then just importantly, their reaction to what was said."
"We also are going to reach out today and try to talk to the African American students who are in the class ... We want to get their perspective as well, if they want to share with us, and they don't have to."
OU's Black Emergency Response Team responded to the incident in a tweet expressing that such behavior "will not be tolerated or accepted."
We do not condone or accept this behavior from any member of the OU community regardless of occupation or student s… https://t.co/eMYisk1agQ— BERT (@BERT)1581453349.0
In addition, we expect accommodation be made for the students who have experienced trauma because of this. (2/2)— BERT (@BERT)1581453365.0
Kelley said several students expressed that they felt uncomfortable and said they would not return to class as long as Gade retains his position among the faculty.
Journalists are supposed to hold the most powerful accountable to society, to give a voice to the voiceless. We we… https://t.co/gzcctQIKWA— abigail. (@abigail.)1581465912.0
I stand with my peers in solidarity. I will not be moved. It is racist, regardless of how long he has been a distin… https://t.co/z9P3bREbFs— abigail. (@abigail.)1581465912.0
"We're going to try to figure out a way that we can resolve ... the real issues that they have, in a way that we can all here in the college go forward."
"We're trying to work through this as best we know how, and I think the best process that we know has to be as open and aboveboard as we can be and, listening to students today is job one."
BuzzFeed News learned that any next steps to be taken towards the professor were discussed at a meeting on Thursday.
While details from the meeting have not been released, BuzzFeed obtained Gade's letter of apology that was emailed to students.
"Journalism students, I made an inexcusable mistake this morning in class with my choice of a word. I was wrong. I am sorry."
"I will strive to show you that I am an instructor and teacher who is trustworthy and respectful of all."
According to his OU biography, Gade is co-editor of Changing the News: The Forces Shaping Journalism in Uncertain Times (2011), and co-author of Twilight of Press Freedom: The Rise of People's Journalism (2001) and has been on the faculty of the University of Oklahoma since 1998.