I have a university professor in an operating systems class who point blank told me in writing that in the linux operating system, kernel race conditions cant/dont happen. After pressing him he changed his answer. Do you find this significant? Do you feel that given other similar occurances its enough to speak with the department chair or is this a lesser offense more appropriate for the student/professor evaluation at the end of the semester?

I kid you not i felt he used a racial slur in the lecture and he followed it up with a one on one question concerning "race conditions" and he gave me such an answer, even in writing.

  • 10
    Answering a technical question wrongly is very different from using a racial slur.
    – YiFan
    Oct 19 '19 at 15:46
  • 7
    This seems more a rant than a question.
    – Buffy
    Oct 19 '19 at 15:50
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    "Professors are held to some serious standards": For what concerns the technical part, hiring systems are not perfect and there are certainly incompetent professors around but, most of all, professors are human and make mistakes too. For the racial slur, instead, there's no excuse.
    – Massimo Ortolano
    Oct 19 '19 at 16:18
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    "Professors are held to some serious standards": In my experience, this applies to hiring and researching. During teaching, the standards are extremly low.
    – Thomas
    Oct 19 '19 at 20:53
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    I do not think the question deserves so many downvotes. It's a common misconception of new students that a professor who does not know everything about their subject is incompentent.
    – Thomas
    Oct 19 '19 at 21:14

As others have pointed out, there are two separate issues here.

Answering a technical question incorrectly is really not an issue at all. I seriously doubt that your professor is incompetent -- it is likely that he misspoke or tried to oversimply something. Unless this is a pattern, I wouldn't take any further action.

Using a racial slur is a very serious accusation. If he really did this, you should complain.

I would also consider the possibility that you misjudged the situation. Within the past couple of days, you have described being isolated after nine years in college and have raised concerns about another professor with (in my view) little justification. Of course I do not know the real situation, but I can imagine that isolation and a long tenure in college might cause one to take an unnecessarily adversarial view toward the faculty.


While I don't know anything about computer science (?), if a human answers one question wrong, this is almost never significant enough to raise a complaint, especially if this person changed their answer. Mistakes can happen. If the person turns out to be generally incompentent, you could consider complaining (maybe do some research before if the department chair is actually able/willing to do something about this). (I cannot judge if their wrong answer is af all connected to the class.)

I'n not quite sure if I understood your last paragraph. If the professor did use a racical slur, document this and do complain (again, if possible, do research beforehand what the possible consequences could be. In some countries, certain racial slurs are unfortunately accepted and you may be the one facing consequences).

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