A University of North Texas attorney resigned on Friday (November 8) after criticism for using the N-word during a campus panel discussion on First Amendment protections.
Caitlin Sewell, the assistant general counsel for the UNT System, used the racial slur as an example of protected speech during a discussion titled “When Hate Comes to Campus.”
Friday morning, UNT officials released a statement announcing Sewell tendered her resignation, saying the comments she made affected the community negatively.
“As leaders of the University of North Texas System and the University of North Texas, we are very aware of the impact Ms. Sewell’s comments have had on our community, and we approach the situation with regret and determination,” the statement reads in part.
During Thursday’s panel discussion, Sewell said it was “impossible to talk about the First Amendment without saying horrible things” before giving an example that would cost her her job. “You know, ‘You’re just a dumb (N-word) and I hate you.’ That alone, that’s protected speech,” she continued.
A UNT student posted a recording of the panel discussion and Sewell’s use of the slur. The video also showed audience members confronting her about it.
“If you walk into the dean of students’ office and start screaming obscenities about ‘F this place, F all of you, you’re all F-ing stupid,’ they can escort you out, and they can do that immediately. And you say ‘No, that’s my free speech right, no, I can tell them all to F off anytime I want,'” Sewell says in the recording. “No, no. Because you’re in a non-public forum in that setting, and so the restriction only needs to be reasonable in order for you to do that.”
Moments later, a member of the audience questions Sewell.
“Excuse me,” the audience member asked. “But why did you censor the F-word but not the N-word?”
Audience members then applauded with some shouting that her use of the word was unnecessary and cruel. “I apologize, I didn’t mean anything by that, it didn’t even occur to me,” Sewell replied.
Watch the full video below.