Following an investigation into Emory University law professor Paul Zwier’s use of the “n-word” in class last month, the law school’s dean said Zwier will not teach any mandatory first-year classes for the next two years in which students do not have the ability to choose their professor.
The stipulation is one of four laid out in a letter from Emory Law interim Dean James B. Hughes Jr. in response to the Aug. 23 incident, which occurred during a first-year torts class and sparked a campus outcry and “Unity Rally” attended by hundreds of students and faculty.
According to a letter Hughes released Tuesday, Zwier also agreed to revise the teaching manuals for his textbooks to include suggestions on how professors using them may avoid offending students when addressing “racially sensitive” matters.
Zwier will also work with student leaders and faculty to foster dialogue “focused on racial sensitivity” and will participate in sensitivity and unconscious bias training to be prescribed by the school’s Office of Equity and Inclusion.
“Professor Zwier has agreed that each of the above actions is appropriate, and he is in full support of them,” wrote Hughes. “Moreover, he has given me his express permission to share with the community this resolution.”
“We are a diverse collection of individuals bound together by a common set of interests and values,” wrote Hughes. “We sometimes disagree among ourselves and disappoint each other, but the ties that bind us compel acceptance of our flaws and forgiveness of transgressions—especially when mistakes are acknowledged, sincere efforts to make amends are made, and forgiveness is sought.”
Zwier also released a letter—his second to the Emory community apologizing—taking responsibility for the incident, which occurred during a discussion of a 1967 case involving a black man who sued after being denied service at a Texas restaurant.
“When I am reminded of the thoughts that go through one’s mind when anyone uses the ‘N word,’ I must fully acknowledge what a mistake it was to say the word,” Zwier wrote. “Any attempt to explain ignores the fears and realities of racism that still haunt our society and my responsibility for protecting our community from it. I fell short in discussion of matters that are important for us to understand about the response of the law to changes in evolving views of race in American society.”
Wrenica Archibald, the president of the Emory Black Law Students Association and organizer of the rally, hailed the school’s actions.
“I welcome the opportunity for community growth—that is what the unity rally echoed,” Archibald said in a statement. “We, as the Emory Law community, have a ‘charge to keep’ and now we, both individually and together, must demonstrate our commitment to that charge through our actions, allowing our minds and our hearts to be transformed towards progress.”
Zwier has been a professor at Emory Law since 2003.