A George Washington University human rights professor fired from his course over a discussion about the N-word has blasted his soon-to-be former employer and says higher education is now too woke for him to work in.
‘I do not plan to return to GW in the spring semester 2023 because I disagree with the decisions of the officials who allowed misinformation to spread unchecked and did not defend their employee’s reputation,’ Professor Michael Stoil, 72, told DailyMail.com.
Stoil, an adjunct professor of political science at the Washington DC university and former CIA analyst, landed in hot water with the university after students filed three racial bias reports against him for comments he made about the use of the N-word in a September class.
He was asked to step down from his human rights course and allowed to remain as a tenured professor – although Stoil has now decided to resign altogether.
The drama began when Stoil used the word uncensored during a phone conversation with an unnamed vice provost about how offensive it was, prompting a horrified response from the academic.
He got into hot water after recounting the conversation with students, although only used the phrase ‘the N-word’ while telling the anecdote.
Stoil now insists insisted his comments were not intended to be racially insensitive, and that students merely misinterpreted a story he was telling a time he used it to demonstrate that the word had no place anywhere.
‘My conversation with the Vice Provost addressed this,’ Stoil said, describing the conversation he had with a GW administrator which he told his class about. ‘My mother, who is white, was shocked when her best friend–an African-American woman from Detroit–referred to her as a ‘silly n…’ 45 years ago.’
‘I was explaining my commitment, and that of my family, to opposition to ethnic slurs, even when in this case it was voiced as a colloquialism by an African-American woman,’ Stoil told DailyMail.com by email.
‘To my great shock, the Vice Provost said that she was physically affected by my use of the word to illustrate an example in an intellectual conversation that we were having over the telephone. In response, I told her that I would never use the word again even in an intellectual conversation about the effects of hate speech, and I have kept that promise. That was the incident that I related in class.’
He went on to suggest that academia was now too woke to work in, saying: ‘I also suspect that my age and years of teaching in truly multiethnic institutions have made me too divorced from current cultural norms in the US to teach such a sensitive topic as human rights.’
In an audio recording from the lecture, Stoil can be heard debating with students about the appropriateness of his use of the N-word in any circumstances in his conversation with the vice provost.
‘I used the N-word, and she was horrified,’ Stoil told his classroom, according to The Hatchet. ‘She says ‘Oh my God, I felt that viscerally. It ran right through me, you used the N-word.’ I said ‘You don’t listen to hip hop? You don’t listen to some of the street music? They use it all the time.’
‘Yeah, but they’re black people,’ a student could be heard responding, while others agreed.
‘Ok, I’m Eurasian,’ Stoil said. ‘Where do I fit in? Can we use it too?’
‘No,’ students replied.
‘You’re right, but the point is I didn’t imagine that she would feel pain from the use of the N-word simply because, by the way, she didn’t know what color I was,’ Stoil said. ‘This was on the telephone. I guess I don’t sound Black. Does Barack Obama sound Black?’
George Washington University has two female black vice provosts, and the identity of the woman Stoil was working with has yet to emerge.
According to GW student paper The Hatchet, students were ‘shocked’ by Stoil’s comments, and some even began to cut his subsequent classes.
‘My hands were just shaking, like I just really didn’t know how to react, what to say, what to do and I just felt alone,’ said GW junior Keheirra Wedderburn. ‘I shouldn’t have to tell you about racism because I go through it.’
Wedderburn, who is black, said Stoil had also previously made her feel uncomfortable in class by asking her in front of all her classmates how long it took her to braid her hair.
A senior political science student, Katie Miller, said she was ‘disgusted’ by Stoil’s remarks in the lecture, and that the class did not know how to respond after he made them.
‘He was saying it like we were all going to agree with him,’ she said. ‘As soon as he said it, you could hear a pin drop in the classroom. Everyone was just completely shocked. Even with masks on, you could tell the look on people’s faces was pure ‘What just happened?”
One of the students who filed a bias report, sophomore Samantha Lewis, said she confronted Stoil but that he seemed unable grasp that people could be offended by his words.
‘He had no clue what I was talking about, he had no clue’ Lewis said. ‘He was like ‘Which comments?’ And I was like ‘Regarding your phone call with the provost.’ And he’s like ‘Oh,’ so I kind of had to explain to him why people were uncomfortable and offended.’
Lewis said Stoil told her he ‘didn’t see a problem,’ with using the N-word, and that to disallow him from using it was a violation of his human rights. She added that Stoil told her he would ‘definitely’ have used the slur in class were it ‘a couple years ago.’
‘No sympathy or self reflection of like ‘Oh damn, like maybe I did mess up, maybe this was a wrong comment for me to make,’ Lewis said.
Stoil confirmed to DailyMail.com that administrators removed him from teaching the human rights class, but said he would continue teaching his other courses until his departure at the end of the semester.
He said his decision to leave was a personal choice made with his family, and was motivated by the university’s handling of the incident.
‘I have not yet left GW…I am teaching my other course through the end of this semester, and I left the human rights course at the request of university officials who asked that I don’t discuss the incident,’ he said. ‘In my opinion, the university made a mistake in not permitting me to resolve the situation through mediation and explanation.’
Stoil added that he felt everybody involved in the incident was ‘well intentioned,’ and that he still had ‘great respect’ for George Washington University.
‘My decision not to pursue future employment at GW is mine alone and I see no reason to spotlight any particular other individuals involved in this sequence of events,’ he said. ‘I am an alumnus of GW and have great respect for the institution and appreciate the opportunity to have continued to teach following my retirement from my previous university.
Stoil also reiterated the point he was trying to make in class, saying he felt the N-word had no place anywhere.
‘I don’t believe that the N-word should be used at all, and I didn’t use it in my class (I literally referred only to the euphemism ‘N-word’). People who use ethnic slurs in normal conversation, in music, and in poetry–even for shock value and even when the speaker is a member of the referenced ethnicity–are perpetuating discrimination and mistreatment. That is the point that I was raising in the human rights course; that hateful speech is hateful speech regardless of who is speaking.’
In an email to The Hatchet, Stoil also lamented the lack of support he received from administration.
‘The University is no place for a ‘color-blind’ humanist whose effort to get students to think in terms of universal human rights has been so misinterpreted and received so little support from University officials,’ he said in an email.
‘Contrary to some students’ belief, I am fully aware of the toxic reaction to use of the ‘N-word’ and other ethnic and gender-related slurs by all people,’ Stoil continued. ‘I object to the N-word’s use in musical performance and poetry regardless of the identity of the user and wish that students felt equally offended by its use under any and all circumstances.’
The university has not commented on Stoil’s departure or how it is handling the bias complaints against him.
‘GW is committed to fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members of our diverse community,’ said GW spokesperson Tom Pierce in an email to The Hatchet. ‘We care deeply about our students’ classroom experience, and we are providing support, resources and updates directly to those affected by this incident.’
Source: Daily Mail