Towson University has fired Professor Allen Zaruba for using the “N-word” during class.
Zaruba, 58, used the racial slur in referencing himself as a worker on a “corporate plantation.” He said he takes full responsibility for using the word, but thinks the university may have gone overboard in his firing.
“Yes, I made a mistake. I immediately repented that. And now I’m going to pay for it for the rest of my career,” Zaruba told WBAL-TV in Baltimore. “It is not a mortal sin for a White person to use it. It depends on how they use it and what content. I was referencing myself. I was not intending to hurt anybody.”
In a statement, Towson Provost Marcia Welsh said, “Towson University strongly supports and upholds academic freedom in the classroom and across our learning community; however, such patently offensive language on the part of university employees will not be tolerated and does not reflect our value system.”
This is the second instance of the slur being used in a classroom setting in recent weeks. A substitute teacher in Houston, Miss. used the word in front of a class of fifth-graders last month. That teacher was only suspended as a punishment.
In that instance, the school district believed it handed out the proper discipline.
“We think we’ve taken appropriate action for the situation,” Houston School District Superintendent Steve Coker told WTVA-TV in Tupelo, Miss. “Everyone may not agree with that.”
Zaruba said he’s not pleased about the “fear” behind the word and isn’t shy about letting his feelings show.
“Why do we turn a word into such a bomb,” he asked during an interview on WBAL radio in Baltimore. “We’re being run by fear. Fear is smoke and mirrors. It was justifiable at one time in our history, but we don’t have slaves anymore. America is moving in a very positive direction.”
Zaruba said that he would gladly accept his job back if Towson offered.