Paul L. Caron

Friday, October 4, 2019

Emory Faculty Committee Meets Today To Decide Fate Of Law Prof Who Used 'N-Bomb'

Daily Report, Confidential Report Sets Stage for Emory Law Prof’s Hearing Over N-Word:

Emory Law (2018)A confidential report by Emory University administrators recommending that a law professor’s suspension be continued without pay for as long as two years for using a racial epithet will play a key role in a hearing to determine his academic fate.

The university Faculty Hearing Committee convenes Friday to decide whether to accept the conclusion of a report by Emory’s Office of Equity and Inclusion that professor Paul Zwier violated the university’s discrimination and harassment policy last year or to reinstate him.

The five-member committee is chaired by Aryeh Stein, an epidemiology professor at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health.

Zwier’s counsel, attorneys Lee Parks and Travis Foust of Atlanta’s Parks Chesin & Walbert, have said they plan to mount a vigorous defense of Zwier at the hearing and seek his reinstatement.

The unsigned OEI report concluded that Zwier’s use of the n-word in a first-year torts class and his subsequent use of a variant of the epithet in a private conversation constituted “a pattern of discriminatory harassment” that was “so severe” it created “an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational environment” that was “disruptive” and interfered with students’ academic performance.

The 75-page report, a copy of which was obtained by The Daily Report, also determined that Zwier’s use of the epithet in class and during a meeting two months later with Justin Tolston—a 27-year-old black master of laws candidate with a law degree from Texas Southern University—served no scholarly purpose and wasn’t protected by principles of academic freedom or free expression. ...

Some faculty interviewed by OEI said the decision to bar Zwier from teaching first-year law classes for two years, and then to suspend him, unfairly increased their own course loads, even though they earned less than the suspended professor. Others fretted that the publicity would make the law school less competitive for minority students or play to stereotypes associated with the segregated South.

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