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NORMAN, Okla. — A University of Oklahoma journalism professor has sent his students an email apology for using the N-word during a class lecture in which he argued the racist slur was no more offensive than the term "boomer."

Peter Gade, director of graduate studies at OU's Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, said in an email to students that he "made an inexcusable mistake" when used the slur during a class Tuesday.

The remark came during a classroom discussion in which Gade said a student's comment about journalists connecting to younger generations was akin to using the phrase, "OK, boomer," a mocking reference to baby boomers. OU Daily, the student newspaper, first reported about the email apology.

"Use of this word is inappropriate in any — especially educational — settings," Gade wrote in the email, while offering his "deepest and most sincere apologies."

The email is not dated, but refers to his comments being made "this morning."

Gade asked for the opportunity to show that he is "an instructor and teacher who is trustworthy and respectful of all."

Gade has not responded to requests for comment.

Interim school President Joseph Harroz said Gade's comment is protected by the First Amendment and academic freedom but is "fundamentally offensive and wrong."

Gade, the Gaylord Family Endowed Chair at the university has been on the faculty since 1998.

Gaylord College officials also sent an email to students, saying "words matter," and that it is seeking a safe environment in which students "can learn and thrive" and encourages students to reach out to someone they trust.

The Associated Press

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