UNT Staff Member Resigns After Using Racial Slur During Discussion on Free Speech

Provided by UNT

DENTON (WBAP/KLIF)- A member of the University of North Texas legal staff has resigned after using a racial slur.

Caitlin Sewell used the slur in an example for a discussion on free speech at the “When Hate Comes to Campus” event. “You’re just a dumb [n-word] and I hate you…that alone, that’s protective speech but if you walk into the Dean’s office and scream obscenities like F-this, F-all of you, they can escort you out…and you say that’s protective speech, it’s not because you’re in a non public forum in that setting,” Sewell said in her speech.

Students at the event were outraged. “Excuse me…why did you censor the F-word but not the N-word,” a student in the crowd yelled. The student’s comment was followed by applause and people yelling out from the crowd. “I wish I censored that word, It came out without thought and I sincerely apologize,” said Sewell.

UNT’s President  Neal Smatresk and Chancellor Lesa Roe released a joint statement saying they were handling the incident with “regret and determination.”

Part of the statement said, “While Ms. Sewell was trying to make a point about First Amendment speech, the references used are never condoned in our community, which prides itself on our diversity and caring nature.”

UNT’S Student Government created a petition with a list of demands for inclusion to present to Administration. A link to that petition can be found here:


Sewell’s letter of resignation: 

Few words are as evocative as the word I used last night during the University panel discussion about hate speech on campus. In an educational environment, I thought I could educate.

In an effort to teach students about the boundaries of free speech, I used the racial epithet as an example of offensive language that is protected under the First Amendment. I deeply regret the hurt that my speech has caused. I am submitting my resignation as Assistant General Counsel for the University of North Texas System, effective immediately.                   

I have given my best effort to this job every day, and it has been a great privilege to work with you, Renaldo, the other members of the Office of General Counsel, and my friends and colleagues on the UNT campus. My time with this institution has been a valuable experience, and one that I hope will make me a better attorney, counselor, and advocate for our Constitutional freedoms in the future.


Hear Kat Boonzaier’s story here: 

Hear a portion of her recorded speech here:

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