The University of Oklahoma admonished a professor after he tried to compare a popular putdown with a racial slur in a journalism class Tuesday.
Peter Gade, who has been on the school’s faculty since 1998, was responding to a student who suggested that journalists need to keep up with the younger generations, according to the university’s student newspaper, The OU Daily. Gade is alleged to have told the student that it was essentially the same as telling him, “OK, Boomer.”
“Calling someone a boomer is like calling someone a n—–,” Gade said, according to the newspaper.
Molly Kruse, an assistant culture editor for the paper, responded in class that Gade should not use the word.
The university’s interim president, Joseph Harroz Jr., said Gade’s comments failed to meet the school’s standard of understanding and tolerance.
“While the professor’s comments are protected by the First Amendment and academic freedom, his comment and word choice are fundamentally offensive and wrong,” Harroz said in a statement Tuesday. “The use of the most offensive word, by a person in a position of authority, hurt and minimized those in the classroom and beyond.”
The OU Daily, some of whose staff members were present in Gade’s class, reported that students who stayed in class after it ended said Gade “told the class he was sorry if he offended anyone.”
Gade did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Younger generations have adopted the phrase “OK, Boomer” to push back at older generations, who some of them feel condescend to teenagers and young adults. The phrase is not exclusively used against those in the baby boomer generation but more generally against those who might be expressing close-minded opinions.
“It isn’t intended in the malicious way that ‘snowflake’ is aimed at younger generations,” Hannah Hill, 20, said at the time. “It’s a funny way the younger people can laugh off the entitlement of some baby boomers. It is a humorous way to say ‘OK, whatever’ and move on with our lives.”