Those who teach foreign languages to English-speaking students, especially American students, will have to be careful what words they teach from now on, lest a foreign-language word sound like an offensive English word.
At the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, communications professor Greg Patton recently gave an online class in which he explained a filler word in Chinese meaning “that.” Patton explained to his class that the filler word, “nega,” is akin to saying “um” or “like” in English.
Patton repeated the word a few times and then said it was like them saying “that, that, that.” Despite the clear explanation and context, some students were apparently offended by the Chinese word. These were business school students, so one has to wonder what would have happened had they been in a meeting with Chinese businessmen and heard the word without an advance explanation from Patton.
Campus Reform has video of the professor’s lecture and reported that Patton is no longer teaching the course.
“Recently, a USC faculty member during class used a Chinese word that sounds similar to a racial slur in English. We acknowledge the historical, cultural and harmful impact of racist language,” USC said in a statement.
Another instructor is currently teaching the class as Patton “agreed to take a short term pause while we are reviewing to better understand the situation and to take any appropriate next steps,” the school’s statement added.
In addition to Patton no longer teaching the class, at least for now, USC is also “offering supportive measures to any student, faculty, or staff member who requests assistance.” In the statement to students, the school said that it was “committed to building a culture of respect and dignity where all members of our community can feel safe, supported, and can thrive.”
University and college professors are increasingly under attack from students who claim to be offended by what they teach and whether or not they are sufficiently accommodating to students who claim to be affected by racial injustice.
As The Daily Wire reported in June, students at the University of California-Los Angeles wanted two professors fired for doing their jobs.
Gordon Klein, an accounting professor, received an email from a group of students requesting the professor allow for a “‘no-harm’ final exam that could only benefit students’ grades, and for shortened exams and extended deadlines for final assignments and projects,” Inside Higher Ed reported. The students requested all of these accommodations due to recent “traumas, we have been placed in a position where we much choose between actively supporting our black classmates or focusing on finishing up our spring quarter.”
Klein responded with a sarcastic email.
“Thanks for your suggestion in your email below that I give black students special treatment, given the tragedy in Minnesota,” Klein wrote back to the students.
“Do you know the names of the classmates that are black?” he asked them. “How can I identify them since we’ve been having online classes only?”
Klein went on to ask about students who “may be of mixed parentage, such as half black-half Asian?”
“What do you suggest I do with respect to them? A full concession or just half?” he asked.
Another UCLA professor, political science lecturer W. Ajax Peris, received calls for his resignation because he read aloud MLK’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” which included the n-word. As The Federalist reported, students “hearing a white lecturer read the n-word from a letter written by a jailed civil rights leader and watching lynching imagery made them feel so ‘uncomfortable,’ they asked Peris to stop.” He apologized for causing “discomfort,” but continued teaching. UCLA’s Political Science Department condemned Peris for failing to “meet the students’ needs” and referred him for a discrimination investigation.
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