Laurie Sheck, The New School

From February 2019 to August 2019
The New School (Private college or university)
New York, NY, United States

Identity of Speakers

  • Laurie Sheck

    Laurie Sheck is an author and professor of graduate studies at The New School.


Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
  • Incident Political Orientation:
  • Incident Responses:
    University investigation not issuing in sanctions
  • Incident Status:
    No litigation
  • No protest Occured
  • Did not involve Speech Codes


Laurie Sheck is a writer and a professor of graduate studies at The New School. In the spring of 2019, Sheck gave a group of creative writing graduate students a copy of James Baldwin’s essay “The Creative Process” to read for class. During class discussion, Sheck asked her students if they had seen the 2016 documentary on Baldwin, “I Am Not Your Negro.” She noted that the title of the documentary used the word “negro” rather than the N-word, which Baldwin used in an appearance on the “Dick Cavett Show.” Sheck used the word in describing this title change, asking her students to consider what this change might reveal about Americans’ ability to reckon with what Baldwin identified as “the darker forces of history.”

A white student in the class objected, saying that an instructor at her undergraduate institution had told her that white people are never to use that term under any circumstances. Sheck told her that this was “one school of thought.” After this, the semester went on with little incident. But in June, Sheck received an email notifying her of student complaints about her conduct under the college’s discrimination policy. She was not provided with any details about her allegedly discriminatory conduct.

On August 16, after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education sent the New School a letter calling on it to stand by its “legacy of academic freedom, tolerance, and free intellectual exchange,” the school cleared Sheck of charges of racial discrimination.