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Pima Community College lesson offends students after racial slurs are used

Posted at 6:13 PM, Jun 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-29 21:13:49-04

A Pima County College Sociology class is under scrutiny after a lesson plan angered some of the students taking the course. One students reached out the 9OYS and said the lesson on "power of words" became offensive when racial slurs were addressed. 

"She didn't give a disclaimer about how the things she was going to show or even teach was going to be offensive to anybody in class," says Sheritta Collins, PCC student.

It was a Sociology class studying "Systems of Oppression and Social Stratification," at Pima Community College but it was the exercise that students needed to do after that didn't sit well with Collins.

The school tells Nine On Your Side that "the class was asked to call out labels or slang words used by oppressors to demean the less powerful."

Collins says students called out derogatory words towards Blacks, White and Hispanics. 
"when she was using the words she turned around and asked the class - what would you do if i called you the N-word but she said the whole thing." 
A few days later the teacher continued the lesson where she used the word again but this time Collins recorded the instructor and the exchange that followed.

Collins: "Don't you think that the N-word is an offensive word?"

Instructor: "Yes, I do."

Collins: "So why is it do easy for you say it then?"

Instructor: Because police officers shouldn't be able to say that either.

Collins: "But you're saying it. Isn't that not a double standard?" 

Student: "I think she's trying to put emphasis on the story. The cops killed the guy."

Collins: "But you don't get because you're white." 

 The teacher is heard explaining the lesson.

"I don't want to lose that word - it's like there's a lot of people that don't believe in the Holocaust - I don't want to lose that word either."

PCC says, "while the exercise was well-intentioned, the instructor may not have given the class enough context to understand the goal of the exercise."


The incident about which you inquired occurred in a Sociology class studying “Systems of Oppression and Social Stratification.”  The class was studying mechanisms used by groups in power to oppress less powerful groups.  The class was studying the issue of vocabulary and derogatory labeling and how they are two tools used by oppressors. 

 The exercise in question required students to call out labels or slang used by oppressors to demean and ostracize the less powerful.  This exercise was then followed by some reading assignments that illustrated how emotionally charged the use these terms can be.

 While the exercise was well-intentioned, the instructor may not have given the class enough context to understand the goal of the exercise.

 After the class in question, the student reached out to several PCC administrators, including the academic Dean over the Sociology Department.  The Dean spoke with the student several times.  As a result, the Dean visited the class, and the Dean and the department chair met with the instructor and counselled the instructor on how the exercise came across to some students.  As a result, the instructor voluntarily agreed to change her methodology to incorporate more context and greater understanding of the class activities, to give students advance warning about the difficulties inherent in the exercise, and to give students the option of stepping out of the classroom.

The dean reached out to students and the school says they had mixed feelings. 

One of them said, "The class was difficult and distressing but didn't feel strongly enough to complain."

Others said, they "Struggled with the content." while another said, the teacher was "terrific and the content was important."

The incident is still under investigation.