Western student groups rally behind peer who spoke out about prof using N-word

Western's University Students' Council (USC) and five student associations are rallying behind a student who received hateful emails after calling out a professor's for using the N-word during a lecture.

Chizoba Oriuwa received hate emails after her address was shared on an internet forum

Student groups at Western are sharing their support toward a peer who has faced backlash after sharing her experience with a professor who used the N-word during a lecture. (Dave Chidley/CBC)

Western's University Students' Council (USC) and five student associations are rallying behind a student who's received hateful emails after calling out a professor for using the N-word during a lecture.

"Together, we stand in solidarity with Chizoba Oriuwa and unequivocally condemn those who cowardly and anonymously attack her courageous decision to speak out about the racism, discrimination, and prejudice she has experienced on Western's campus," the student groups said in a joint statement.

Oriuwa, a fourth year Health Sciences student, spoke out this week about English Professor Andrew Wenaus using the N-word during a lecture. She said the professor used the word to "get a reaction" from the class.

Wenaus has apologized, writing in a statement that the "term came spontaneously."

Since then, CBC News has seen several emails addressed to Oriuwa's school address, filled with hate speech and racial slurs.

One email called her the N-word 20 times, while another used a different derogatory word directed toward black people.

"My colleagues and I take this situation very seriously," Jennie Massey, the associate vice president of student experience at Western told CBC News in response to the emails. 

Massey said Oriuwa's email address was shared on 4chan, an online forum that allows people to post anonymously. That's how people gained access to her address.

Chizoba Oriuwa said she froze in her seat when her English professor used the N-word to "get a reaction" from students in class. (Sofia Rodriguez CBC)

"There is absolutely no place for hate and racism on our campus," the student council's statement continued. The negative backlash shows there's still much work to be done to raise awareness about systemic and institutional racism at Western, it said. 

Western officials, students group leaders and Oriuwa met on Wednesday to talk about these issues at the university.