An Ohio State professor and suicide prevention expert is under university review after his use of a racial slur in class prompted a letter from students.
Paul Granello, an associate professor of counselor education, apologized in a letter this past semester for his use of offensive language in class. The university is now reviewing the incident and other issues raised by the incident, university spokesperson Ben Johnson said in an email.
Granello and his wife Darcy Haag Granello, professor of counselor education and director of the Ohio State Campus Suicide Prevention Program, were originally scheduled to teach classes during the spring semester.
Instead, they are both “developing curriculum, conducting research and handling other responsibilities as university faculty,” Johnson said in the statement. Both are under review by the Office of Institutional Equity, but it is unclear why Darcy Granello is under review.
Paul Granello’s annual salary from Ohio State is $84,127.68 and Darcy Granello’s is $118,574.64, according to Ohio State’s salaries and earnings database.
The Oct. 16, 2019, letter from second-year graduate students in the school counseling program raised concerns about Granello’s comparison of slurs for people of color and with intellectual disabilities with the impact of saying “committed suicide” instead of “completed suicide.”
“Changing and evolving terms to address stigma is very important for suicide prevention and none of us want to minimize that, but we don’t believe that this is an equal comparison, given the historical context and the power dynamics inherent in who can use what terms and when,” the letter reads.
The discussion, part of a graduate-level course with 12 students, was about the power of language, Granello said in an email to The Lantern.
“I gave examples of how certain words carry so much power that they have become damaging to use. I never used the word in a pejorative context,” he said in the email. “I was teaching about the power of language. I became aware later that some students were offended by the words used even in that context.”
The students’ letter said they were uncomfortable with Granello using the word outright instead of alluding to it and questioned whether he would have made the same decision had there been black students present.
Granello said in his apology letter to the class dated Nov. 17, 2019, that he “messed up” and his use of the word was inappropriate regardless of the context.
“The use of that type of language is not who I want to be as a person or as an educator,” he said in the letter.
Granello said in the email that in future discussions he will use “euphemisms such as the ‘N-word.’”
A previous photo caption on this story said the Office of Institutional Equity was located in Bricker Hall. It is actually located at 21 E. 11th Ave.