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School of English ask faculty and students to refrain from vocalising the ‘N-word’ in class

The School have now developed a clear policy

The School of English have released an email stating that Sussex faculty and students must refrain from vocalising the 'N-word' in class.

Earlier this month, Sussex English lecturers came under question for their use of the n-word in seminars. Students took to various group chats to express their concerns around the use of the word describing it as 'inappropriate' making people in seminars feel 'noticeably unsettled'. The lecturer in question defended his use of the word arguing that it was "impossible to teach the text accurately without using the word 'n*****".

The School of English have since circulated an official response amongst students of the department, with an email being sent to students titled 'School of English Policy on the teaching of material containing the 'N-word'.

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A screenshot from the email sent to English students

The email outlined the outcome of discussions that had taken place in the school. It read: "Concerns have been raised by students about the voicing of this expression in class by tutors and other students, particularly when those voicing the word are white".

It also highlighted that the students who have raised these issues, communicated them in "articulate terms, [suggesting] how distressing this can be for students of colour, regardless of the intentions behind it".

The email stated that the School of English have now developed a clear policy on this:

“The school of English asks faculty and students to refrain from vocalising the 'N word' in class. This is in recognition of the particular history of this word, the implications of its use by people of different ethnic groups, and its unique capacity to cause offence.

It is not our policy, however, to refrain from teaching material that uses the word, or any other offensive or sensitive language. It is a central part of our task as critics of the relation between language and power to think about how all forms of language come to mean – indeed it is through attention to the historical meaning of speech acts that we are able both to understand and to transform the political meaning of words.”

Speaking to The Sussex Tab, one of the students who initially raised concerns said: "Sussex must do better in actively dismantling systems of authority and power in teaching, which in this case, was reproducing white supremacy by allowing tutors and students to freely say the n-word with no repercussions in front of uncomfortable black students".

"Regardless, I am happy that the policy has now been put in place and that black students studying English at Sussex, in the future, do not have to experience the discomfort and disillusionment that comes with the careless use of this word in classrooms".