The Projo has been covered with stories about Ralph Papitto, the ousted chair of the Roger Williams University board of trustees, and his use of the n-word in board deliberations on lack of diversity at the University and on the board itself. RWU has been run like a personal empire for Papitto ever since it's founding and his being forced out because of his inappropriate use of a word gives me ambivalent feelings.
On the one hand, I like the idea that the only woman on the board had the courage to face up to Papitto, and along with two others, to demand Papitto's resignation from the board for such insensitive behavior. Who could condone Papitto's use of such hateful speech and at an educational institution that is coming into its own academically just recently? Without Papitto calling the shots at the University, and with qualified educators having a more powerful voice in how the University will develop, RWU will become a more powerful academic voice in RI. Papitto has outlived his usefulness for RWU and it is a good thing for the school that he is gone, but sad that it is accomplished with his self-inflicted disgrace.
On the other hand, I don't like throwing Papitto out for the use of a word, even the n-word. There are no such things as bad words. Insensitive, absolutely, not to be used, absolutely, but never to be banned by legislation, rules or regulations. Such actions would be a violation of free speech. Attack Papitto and rightly so for not having a diverse board that includes African Americans, fight him on his positions that prevent diversity, but don't dump him because he used a word you don't like. Killing off the opposition for the use of a word is a very slippery slope as they say in legalese, and can lead to real abuses of our freedom of speech here in the U.S.
The Projo article also states that the woman trustee and two other whistleblowers who demanded Papitto's resignation for his use of the n-word were thrown off the board of trustees at RWU in retaliation. An unconscionable act and one that can only be corrected by offering the three individuals places on the board again by the new Chair of the RWU trustees. Nothing less than this would be justice.
RWU will weather this storm and will grow into the great University it was meant to be.