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KU investigation clears professor who used N-word in class


After a four-month investigation into whether she racially harassed and discriminated against students, a Kansas University professor who used the N-word in class has been cleared.

Assistant professor of communication studies Andrea Quenette said KU’s Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access notified her late Friday that it found she did not violate the university’s nondiscrimination or racial and ethnic harassment policies, as several graduate students had complained last fall.

Quenette — who has been on paid leave since the investigation opened in late November — said she thought KU’s process was thorough and fair, but she is relieved it’s over and looks forward to returning to campus.

“I believe they did due diligence in taking the students’ concerns seriously, and I do appreciate that,” she said. “I didn’t believe I had violated policies … so I’m glad that the outcome reflected that.”

Key to the university’s decision was that while Quenette did say the N-word during a November class discussion about race, she did not use it as a slur.

“This word is offensive, but it was used in the context of retelling a factual event that occurred at another campus,” Quenette said, summarizing what the university wrote in a letter explaining its conclusion. “It was not used in racial animus.”

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