Five months ago, the University began an investigation into Emory Law Professor Paul J. Zwier II, who allegedly used the N-word on two separate occasions in front of students. As of Tuesday, the University offered no updates on the investigation.
Zwier was placed on paid administrative leave following several reports that he used the N-word on Oct. 31 while meeting with a student during office hours, the Wheel previously reported. The University previously sanctioned the professor after scrutiny from students for using the word two months before in class.
Zwier is still on administrative leave according to an April 4 email sent to all law students from the Interim Dean of Emory School of Law James B. Hughes Jr.
“Zwier is represented by counsel,” Hughes wrote in the email. “I must respect and abide by personnel protocols that mandate confidentiality until the matter has been resolved.”
Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law Emeritus William Carney asked the American Bar Association and the American Association of University Professors to place the University on academic probation, arguing that the University violated Zwier’s academic freedoms for penalizing his use of the racial epithet in a non-derogatory way.
In the complaint, Carney alleges that Zwier had used the N-word when he told a student during office hours that he had been called a “N****r lover” as a child because his parents were advocates of civil rights.
“We respectfully disagree with Professor Zwier’s characterization of the events, and we are engaged in dialogue with him about this matter,” Emory’s Assistant Vice President of Reputation Management Laura Diamond wrote in an April 9 email to the Wheel.
After the first incident, Zwier publicly apologized for using the racial slur during a class lecture on Aug. 23.
After the second incident, Vice President for Academic Communications Nancy Seideman referred the Wheel to University Policy 4.72, which states, “When an investigation by the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs is being conducted on a matter such as a … discrimination complaint, an employee may be placed on administrative leave with pay.”
The policy specifies that such an investigation should be “conducted immediately” and that a conclusion should be reached within 30 days. An extension can be granted if the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs consults with the department and the employee is notified.
The first incident prompted a two-week investigation by the Office of Equity and Inclusion which resulted in Emory barring Zwier from teaching mandatory courses for first-year law students. They also required that he revise teaching manuals to include ways to address racially sensitive issues, participate in dialogues on racial sensitivity and complete sensitivity and unconscious bias training.
The Black Law Students Association (BLSA) and Student Bar Association (SBA) began a petition on Nov. 12 after the second alleged incident, requesting that the University remove Zwier and require that he participate in cultural competency and unconscious bias training.
BLSA President Wrenica Archibald (16C, 19L) and SBA President Nicole ElMurr (19L) did not respond to the Wheel’s request for an interview.