Top officials at the University of Oklahoma are rebuking one of their journalism professors after he likened the joke phrase “OK boomer” to saying the n-word.

In making the n-word claim, the professor also used “the actual word itself,” an official statement released on Tuesday read.

“While the professor’s comments are protected by the First Amendment and academic freedom, his comment and word choice are fundamentally offensive and wrong,” wrote the school’s interim president, Joseph Harroz Jr.

A spokesperson for the school told BuzzFeed News any next steps against the professor would be discussed during a meeting scheduled on Thursday. The spokesperson said they could not confirm or provide any additional information about the incident.

According to the university’s student paper, the Oklahoma Daily, Professor Peter Gade used the slur in class during a lecture about the changing media industry.

The student paper said multiple members of their staff were in his class at the time and witnessed the incident.

“Gade then called on a student who said journalists have to keep up with the younger generations as they continue to change. Gade said the student’s comment was the equivalent of saying ‘OK, boomer’ to him,” student and OU Daily editor Jordan Miller wrote.

“The class broke into light laughter but was interrupted by Gade’s next comment. ‘Calling someone a boomer is like calling someone a n—–,’ Gade said.”

When news of what Gade said traveled up to OU’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication leadership and diversity teams, officials sent their students an email once again admonishing his choice of words.

During this time, Gade apologized to his journalism students.

The school provided BuzzFeed News a copy of the professor’s emailed apology.

“Journalism students, I made an inexcusable mistake this morning in class with my choice of a word. I was wrong. I am sorry,” he wrote. “I will strive to show you that I am an instructor and teacher who is trustworthy and respectful of all.”

  • Tanya Chen is a social news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Chicago.

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