King's student seeks more inclusion after n-word used in class
LONDON, ONT. -- A King’s University College at Western University student is speaking out about the use of a racial slur during a lecture last fall.
“I was holding my breath, because I was like no way he’s going to say it. And then he just full on said it. And everyone kind of stopped,” says Tamia Chicas, who was following along in an English course that was dealing with the racial context of historical text.
During the lecture, Professor Coby Dowdell was reading a passage from the 1899 book ‘Heart of Darkness’ by Joesph Conrad.
According to Chicas, she saw the racial slur in the text, but wasn’t warned that it would be used during the lecture.
She tried addressing her discomfort with the professor and dean but felt it was left unresolved. So she decided to speak out.
“I found courage because of the girl from last year. Obviously, I was very scared, because she felt a lot of backlash.”
Since coming forward, the professor has apologized and vowed to not use the full text of the racially insensitive term in the future.
On Wednesday, King’s University College Principal David Malloy lauded Chicas for speaking out.
“I’m very proud of her courage, in coming forward. And expressing her feelings about this. She was absolutely right, absolutely right to do so.”
Malloy adds that the school is joining with Brescia College as joint principles in an anti-racism working group, to work towards guidelines that will respect all students.
“The use of this language will clearly be part of the discussions that we will have going forward. To essentially educate the broader community about the sensitivities of using terminology that can be very hurtful,” says Malloy.
Chicas agrees that is a good start, but long overdue.
“I’m the only black student in that class. I want to see more inclusion, I want to see more people there, being a part of it, being a part of the conversation. And maybe then we can start making some necessary changes."