Emory law school professor who used ‘n-word’ in class to undergo bias and sensitivity training

Emory University professor Paul Zwier. EMORY UNIVERSITY
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Emory University professor Paul Zwier. EMORY UNIVERSITY

Emory University's law school announced Tuesday a white professor who used the "n-word" in a classroom discussion last month about a racial discrimination case will have to take sensitivity and unconscious bias training.

The professor, Paul Zwier, will also work with student leaders and faculty to create and participate in dialogues focused on racial sensitivity. Additionally, students will not be required for the next two years to take a class with Zwier if there is no choice of another professor.

Zwier apologized in a statement Tuesday for the “harm” he caused. Student leaders organized a unity rally on campus days after the class and there were calls for Zwier to be fired.

Justin Tolston holds a sign demanding Emory University law school professor Paul Zwier be fired for using the n-word in his class during a discussion about a discrimination case. Zwier has since apologized for the use of the word. ERIC STIRGUS / ESTIRGUS@AJC.COM
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Justin Tolston holds a sign demanding Emory University law school professor Paul Zwier be fired for using the n-word in his class during a discussion about a discrimination case. Zwier has since apologized for the use of the word. ERIC STIRGUS / ESTIRGUS@AJC.COM

“I must fully acknowledge what a mistake it was to say the word,” he wrote. “Any attempt to explain ignores the fears and realities of racism that still haunt our society and my responsibility for protecting our community from it. I fell short in discussion of matters that are important for us to understand about the response of the law to changes in evolving views of race in American society.”

The incident took place during Zwier’s class on Aug. 23. The professor was discussing a 1967 case about an African-American man who was told "a Negro could not be served" at an event. Zwier asked a student while discussing more facts about the case if the man was called the n-word, according to the university. The professor said he initially did not recall using the n-word but said in a letter to faculty that he used the word "rushing at the end of class and should have picked my words more carefully."

Interim law school dean James B. Hughes Jr. said at the end of his statement to students, staff and faculty that the situation presents Emory with an opportunity to draw closer together.

“Let us seize it,” Hughes wrote.

Wrenica Archibald, 24, president of Emory University’s Black Law Student Association, speaks at a unity rally she helped organized after a professor used used a racial slur in his class during a discussion about a discrimination case. ERIC STIRGUS / ESTIRGUS@AJC.COM
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Wrenica Archibald, 24, president of Emory University’s Black Law Student Association, speaks at a unity rally she helped organized after a professor used used a racial slur in his class during a discussion about a discrimination case. ERIC STIRGUS / ESTIRGUS@AJC.COM