Purdue University Northwest’s Chancellor Thomas Keon has apologized for mocking Asian languages while speaking at the university’s winter commencement ceremony.
The ceremony took place on Saturday and a video of Keon’s racist impression went viral on Tuesday.
According to NBC News, right before the incident, radio host James Dedelow spoke to graduates about the importance of free speech. He mentioned a made-up language he used with his family. Then, Keon approached the podicum and said, “Well, all I can say is,” before making several noises.
“That’s sort of my Asian version of his,” Keon said, laughing.
Videos of Keon’s racist mockery began to circulate on social media. Asian Americans expressed their shock and disgust that a university chancellor had made the remarks.
“There’s no excuse for this garbage when comes from a kid. But this is coming from the Purdue University Northwest chancellor. And his colleagues found it funny,” Eun Kyung Kim, the deputy White House editor for POLITICO, wrote in a tweet.
The chancellor issued an apology on Wednesday.
“I am truly sorry for my unplanned, off-the-cuff response to another speaker, as my words have caused confusion, pain, and anger,” Keon wrote, according to the Chicago Tribune. “Purdue University Northwest, and I personally, take great pride in being welcoming and inclusive to all people.”
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