Corlett removed from two courses after using racial slurs in class

This article was published in The Daily Aztec on March 16, 2022.

Professor J. Angelo Corlett was reassigned from two courses after using racial slurs and racist labels/nicknames in his lectures. Corlett is still teaching a philosophy course at San Diego State and is tenured.

His removal from two select courses comes after a student confronted his controversial teaching tactics on March 1. However, this was not the first occurrence of student complaints. 

Criminal justice junior Amanda Malawski was enrolled in Corlett’s Morality and Law course in the fall 2020 semester. The course was lectured using Google Spaces, a mobile app for group discussions and messaging developed by Google.

“I reported him last fall for the language and stuff, and nothing was done,” Malawski said.

The aspiring lawyer thought the class would touch on topics relevant to her career goals. However, the “offensiphobia” lecture was given after the add/drop deadline, and from that point forward she said she hated attending the class. 

“He always said because he experiences racism he understands…I get that he experiences racism but it doesn’t justify using the n-word,” Malawski said.

Corlett repeatedly justified his language with a variety of arguments. 

“He would justify that if a white person is offended by him saying the n-word like why are you offended, you’re not a Black person, and he would be like ‘the only people that should be offended are Black people,’” Corlett said. “But when people said he shouldn’t say that, he would go back to his ‘offensiphobia’ bullshit lecture.”

When students participated in the class but refused to vocalize the racial slurs, students said he would guilt trip them, claiming to censor the slurs was in direct contradiction with what he taught, according to Malawski. 

The Afrikan Student Union released a statement on Instagram on March 6, which voiced support for the university’s decision to remove Corlett from the two courses.

“On behalf of the Afrikan Student Union, we 100% support the University’s decision to remove Professor Corlett from the classroom. We stand with ALL Black students on this matter. This situation is just one of many incidents of anti-Blackness and racism, not only within his classroom but on campus as a whole.”

Associated Students released a similar statement on March 8 and said they are “appalled” by his behavior.

“Students in the classroom reported that the n-word with a ‘hard r’ at the end was said over 60 times, the words ‘r*pe’ and ‘gang r*pe’ were used repeatedly when referencing sexual violence, and he noted that he would only be fired if he r*aped or killed a student,” the AS statement said. 

FIRE came out with a vulgar article that came to Corlett’s defense claiming he has a right to use this kind of speech under his First Amendment rights. 

“We have the utmost respect for academic freedom and free speech on this campus, yet it is impossible to comprehend how repeated abuse of racial epithets, derogatory terms, and disturbing, harmful language that causes trauma and creates a hostile learning environment is beneficial to the student academic experience,” the AS statement said. 

Upon request to define the parameters of Corlett’s “reassignment,” the university said they could not discuss the details any further since this is a personnel issue. 

The university did, however, release this statement: 

“Importantly, the information shared in the media coverage is not a complete reflection of what has occurred. The university holds in highest regards all protections for academic freedom. The university, however, is limited in what it can share about the matter, as this involves a personnel issue.

After reviewing multiple complaints from students, the university considered the severity of the situation and the support needed for our students, and reassigned the professor. Again, as this involves a personnel matter, the university cannot provide further information at this time. “

Corlett could not be reached for comment.

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