Michael Stoil: George Washington professor fired after verbalizing N-word in discussion on hate speech

Michael Stoil: George Washington professor fired after verbalizing N-word in discussion on hate speech
Professor Michael Stoil told students in the Human Rights class, which holds 39 seats that he used a racial slur during a phone call with a provost (Michael Jon Stoil/Facebook and The George Washington University/Facebook)

WASHINGTON, DC: Michael Stoil, a human rights lecturer at George Washington University who was dismissed from his course for bringing up the N-word has criticized his soon-to-be former employer and claimed that higher education is now too progressive for him to work in.

Former CIA analyst Stoil, an adjunct professor of political science at a Washington, DC, university, ran afoul of the school after three complaints of racial bias were filed against him over remarks he made regarding the use of the N-word in a class during September. “I do not plan to return to GW in the spring semester of 2023 because I disagree with the decisions of the officials who allowed misinformation to spread unchecked and did not defend their employee's reputation, “Professor Stoil, 72, told Daily Mail. Despite being ordered to leave his human rights course and given permission to keep his tenure, Stoil has now made the decision to leave academia entirely. During a phone chat with an anonymous vice provost about how terrible the word "uncensored" was, Stoil used it, which set off the drama. The professor was outraged by Stoil's usage of the word and responded horribly. Even though he merely used the "N-word" when relating the tale to students, he got into trouble after doing so.



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Currently, Stoil maintains that his remarks were not meant to be racially offensive and that the students just misunderstood the story he was presenting at the time he used it to illustrate that the word had no place anywhere. “My mother, who is white, was shocked when her best friend--an African-American woman from Detroit--referred to her as a 'silly n...' 45 years ago.' 'I was explaining my commitment, and that of my family, to opposition to ethnic slurs, even when in this case it was voiced as a colloquialism by an African-American woman,” Stoil reported to the Daily Mail. “To my great shock, the Vice Provost said that she was physically affected by my use of the word to illustrate an example in an intellectual conversation that we were having over the telephone. In response, I told her that I would never use the word again even in an intellectual conversation about the effects of hate speech, and I have kept that promise. That was the incident that I related in class,” he said in his statement. 

He continued by claiming that university was now too progressive to work in, adding, "I also suspect that my age and years of teaching in truly multiethnic institutions have made me too divorced from current cultural norms in the US to teach such a sensitive topic as human rights.” During his interaction with the vice provost, Stoil was heard disputing with students about whether or not using the N-word in any situation is permissible. The conversation is captured on audio from the lecture. “I used the N-word, and she was horrified,” Stoil told his classroom, according to the GW student newspaper The Hatchet. “She says 'Oh my God, I felt that viscerally. It ran right through me, you used the N-word.” I said “You don't listen to hip hop? You don't listen to some of the street music? They use it all the time.” “Yeah, but they're black people,” a student responded, while others agreed. “Ok, I'm Eurasian,” Stoil said. “Where do I fit in? Can we use it too?' 'No,” students replied. “You're right, but the point is I didn't imagine that she would feel pain from the use of the N-word simply because, by the way, she didn't know what color I was,” Stoil said. “This was on the telephone. I guess I don't sound Black. Does Barack Obama sound Black?”

The woman Stoil was collaborating with hasn't been identified, although George Washington University has two female black vice provosts. As per The Hatchet, many were "shocked" by Stoil's remarks and some even started skipping his subsequent sessions. Keheirra Wedderburn, a black woman, claimed that Stoil had previously embarrassed her by inquiring about how long it took her to braid her hair in front of the entire class. “My hands were just shaking, like I just really didn't know how to react, what to say, what to do and I just felt alone,” said GW junior Wedderburn. “I shouldn't have to tell you about racism because I go through it.”

Katie Miller, a senior political science student, said she was "disgusted" by Stoil's remarks in the lecture and that the group was at a loss for words when he made them. “He was saying it like we were all going to agree with him. As soon as he said it, you could hear a pin drop in the classroom. Everyone was just completely shocked. Even with masks on, you could tell the look on people's faces was pure 'What just happened?',” she said. Samantha Lewis, a sophomore and one of the students who reported Stoil for racism claimed that when she confronted him, he didn't appear to understand that his statements would have upset others. “He had no clue what I was talking about, he had no clue” Lewis said. “He was like 'Which comments?' And I was like 'Regarding your phone call with the provost.' And he's like 'Oh,' so I kind of had to explain to him why people were uncomfortable and offended.”

Lewis recalled Stoil telling her that he "didn't see a problem" with using the N-word and that to forbid him from doing so would be an infringement on his human rights. She said that if it had been "a couple of years ago," Stoil had assured her that he would "definitely" have used the slur in class. “No sympathy or self-reflection of like 'Oh damn, like maybe I did mess up, maybe this was a wrong comment for me to make,” Lewis added. While he committed to continue instructing his other courses until his leave at the end of the semester, Stoil acknowledged to Daily Mail that officials had barred him from teaching the human rights course.

He claimed that the way the university handled the situation led to his decision to quit, which he decided in consultation with his family. “I have not yet left GW...I am teaching my other course through the end of this semester, and I left the human rights course at the request of university officials who asked that I don't discuss the incident,” he said. “In my opinion, the university made a mistake in not permitting me to resolve the situation through mediation and explanation.” In addition, Stoil said he still had "great respect" for George Washington University and that he believed everyone involved in the incident had good intentions. “My decision not to pursue future employment at GW is mine alone and I see no reason to spotlight any particular other individuals involved in this sequence of events,” Stoil said. “I am an alumnus of GW and have great respect for the institution and appreciate the opportunity to have continued to teach following my retirement from my previous university.”


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