Samantha Harris, the lawyer representing the lady, stated the college can be abdicating its duty to coach attorneys if it inspired professors to keep away from epithets in all contexts.
“When you’re an attorney, you hear all kinds of horrible things,” stated Ms. Harris, a former fellow at FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
“You represent people who have said horrible things, who have done horrible things,” she stated. “You can’t guarantee a world free of offensive language.”
Adam Scales, a Black professor at Rutgers Law who has signed the assertion of assist for Professor Bergelson, stated he opposed even voluntary limits on speech. But he stated the variety of his colleagues who consider racial epithets ought to by no means be spoken, whatever the context, is “not insignificant.”
Using euphemisms like “N-word” to keep away from the racial slur, he stated, obfuscates its repugnant historical past.
“There is something extremely antiseptic about the term ‘N-word,’” he stated. “There is something that softens the impact.”
The school discussions, held by videoconference, have been fraught, he stated.
“I can’t imagine a less hospitable setting than a 100-person Zoom call to discuss racism,” he stated. “It’s a demoralizing time for everyone involved.”
Professor Bergelson, who emigrated from Moscow as an grownup, stated her perception that slurs rooted in racism, bigotry or misogyny must be averted at school stems from her personal historical past. Her grandmother, she stated, was a journalist who was executed in 1950 by the Stalin regime for associating with the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee. Another relative was executed in 1952.