A University of Oklahoma professor offended his students and elements of the American public after news broke that he compared the n-word to the recently-coined pop culture phrase, “Ok boomer.” Peter Gade is the director of graduate studies and teaches journalism courses at the university’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communications, according to the university’s online biography.
During one of his class lectures, Gade said that the phrase “Ok, boomer” was almost as offensive as the n-word racial slur. The “Ok boomer” phrase is typically used by younger people to mock the Boomer generation in a dismissive manner.
Gade apologized in an e-mail and said, “I realize the word was hurtful and infuses the racial divisions of our country, past and present.” He added, “Use of the word is inappropriate in any — especially educational — settings. I offer my deepest and most sincere apologies. In the coming weeks, I will strive to show you that I am an instructor and teacher who is trustworthy and respectful of all. Please give me that opportunity.”
After students criticized Gade’s comments, he was suspended from teaching the Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy course for the duration of the semester. Instead, an associate dean will take over the course’s instruction, which is a senior capstone course required for all journalism students to graduate. Gade will also take a university program in culturally competent communication for the next month, in addition to meeting one-on-one with the University of Oklahoma’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. He will not be punished financially in pay or academic responsibilities, outside of the capstone course instruction.
News such as this tends to be confusing when a journalism or communications professor becomes embroiled in scandal or controversy because their experience should provide enough warning signs about making controversial statements or public gaffes.