George Brown College (GBC) has launched an investigation after a guest speaker reportedly used a racial slur during a class on Wednesday.

In a statement posted on its website on Thursday, Dr. Gervan Fearon, the college’s president, said GBC is aware of the “disturbing and troubling” incident involving the N-word.

Fearon said the speaker, who is not employed by the college, used the slur during a classroom case study presentation. No other details about the incident have been shared by GBC.

He called the incident “harmful,” “disheartening,” and can be traumatizing for many students.

“We acknowledge that giving embodied voice and life to the N-word and other racial slurs is completely unacceptable, inhumane and undermines efforts to create a safe and broadly supportive and inclusive learning environment,” Fearon said.

“We condemn this behaviour in the strongest terms and are taking this matter extremely seriously.”

Fearon noted that as soon as it was made aware of the incident, the college’s Office of Anti-Racism, Equity and Human Rights (OAREHRS) instructed officials to immediately launch a formal investigation to ensure that appropriate actions are taken and prevent it from happening again.

He said the college connected directly with students who were in the class to provide support. They are also urged to contact the OAREHRS to discuss the incident or make a complaint.

“As an institution, we are deeply committed to confronting racism in all its forms, every day. We seek to foster a safe and respectful learning, teaching and working community that is animated by the principles of equity, diversity, mutual respect and accountability. I believe that all college community members have a right to study, live and work in a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment,” Fearon said.

“I want to emphasize again that this incident is and was unacceptable, and we will continue to work tirelessly to build a safe and inclusive community for all our students and employees.”

The college has three main campuses in Toronto and four other locations where some classes are being held.