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A Duke professor warned Chinese students to speak English

Students demand further investigation of emails, claiming that those who speak Chinese out of the classroom may not receive the same opportunities as other students.

"Something to think about," read the subject line of an e-mail Megan Neely has sent Friday. Neely, who ran the Master of Biostatistics program at the University's School of Medicine, sent the e-mail to students in the first and second year of the program. In it she invited the students to "deal 100% with English in a professional environment".

In the e-mail, Neely said she had been approached by two Faculty members complaining about Chinese students, the Chinese speaking student lounge, and study areas.

"They were disappointed that these students did not take the opportunity to improve their English and were so rude to have a conversation that not everyone on the floor could understand," Neely wrote in bold. underlined type. She said faculty members asked to see photos of the students in the program so that they could "remember them if the students ever did an internship or worked with them on a master's project."

"PLEASE PLEASE NOTE these unintended consequences if you want to speak Chinese in the building," Neely continued. "I have no idea how hard it was for you and still is to come to the US and study in a language other than my native language, and as such, I have the highest respect for what you do recommend that you use English 1

00% of the time when in Hock or any other professional environment. "

Neely sent a similar e-mail last year

Neely sent a similar e-mail. Email to Students In this email Neely wrote that she had received reports from the faculty that many international students in the break rooms of the department do not speak English. She said that she wanted to give students advice on why this may not be the best option.

  For your information: English is not the official language of the United States.

"In addition to the obvious opportunity to practice and perfect your English, speaking in your native language in the department may give the impression that you Do not try to improve your English language skills and that you will not take this opportunity seriously, "she wrote in an email from February 2018.

" Conclusion: Continuing this practice can make it more difficult for you and future international students, while The program has research opportunities, "said the email in 2018.

Michael Schoenfeld, vice president of Duke Public Affairs and government relations, confirmed the authenticity of both emails to CNN. CNN turned to Neely to comment but did not receive an answer.

Although Neely has resigned as Program Director, she will continue her role as Assistant Professor of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, Schoenfeld said.

"Absolutely no restriction or restriction of language," says Dean. 19659007] Mary Klotman, Dean of the University's School of Medicine, apologized for Neely's email in a letter to the program's students.

"I understand that many of you feel hurt and annoyed by this news," Klotman wrote. "To put it bluntly, there is absolutely no restriction or limitation on the language you use to communicate and communicate with each other, your career opportunities and recommendations are in no way influenced by the language you use outside the classroom."

Klotman said she asked the Office of Institutional Equity of the University to conduct a review of the biostatistics program and recommend ways to improve the environment for students of all backgrounds.

"Rest assured that Duke University, the School of Medicine, and the Department of Biostatistics respect the value of every student, every culture, and every language spoken," wrote Klotman.

E-mail is hypocritical and discriminatory, students say

A group of students petitioned for an investigation into the actions of the unnamed faculty in Neely's email. The students said they have more than 2,000 signatures so far.
The Duke Asian Students Association and the Duke International Association condemned Neely's emails and the activities of the unnamed faculty members in a joint statement.

"This behavior is not only hypocritical – given Duke's reliance on international students and faculties for their undergraduate and graduate studies to present themselves as a" global university "and as a partnership with Duke Kunshan University, it is also discriminatory . "the statement read.

Many international students took the impact of Neely's emails. They pointed out that speaking in another language is not an indicator of English.

"Speaking Chinese or other international languages ​​does not mean that our English is not good," said Evan Wang, who had made his masters in biostatistics program in 2015, said. "It has nothing to do with our research skills or job opportunities."

Xinyuan Zhang, a Ph.D. student in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in the fourth year, said he understands that good English skills are beneficial, but when he speaks to other students from China like him it's easier to speak in his native language.

"For us, if we were in a study environment or work environment, we would certainly use English, that's for sure, but in private conversations with only Chinese students, we would prefer Chinese," Zhang said.

He added that this is not only true for Chinese students, but that it has been observed among Korean students, Russian students and others whose mother tongue was not English.

Other students urged the university to study the matter.

Michelle Li, senior president and president of the Asian Students Association at Duke, said she wants to know if the problem goes beyond the biostatistics program.

"By and large, I want to know if it's a department or multiple departments," Li said. "It was not just an e-mail, but several emails. It was not just a director, but several faculties. "

The topics at the heart of Neely's emails, the students say, are also at the heart of a national conversation in the US.

"It somehow seems to connect to a national dialogue who is exactly American and therefore belongs here," said Li.

Trending in China

The email controversy has attracted much attention in China, outrage over the country's Twitter-like social platform, Weibo.

"If this is not racist – what is it?" wrote a user, highlighting a widespread feeling. "Why should the conversations of these students be understood by others at all?"

"If a Chinese university does not allow international students to speak English or their mother tongue, what would happen?" Another user agreed. "To be excluded is in every way a sign of barbarism."

More than 363,000 Chinese students enrolled in colleges and universities throughout the United States in 2017/18 and formed the largest foreign student body, according to the Institute of International Education.

A 2016 US Department of Commerce report said Chinese students in the US contributed $ 9.8 billion to the US economy.

Marlena Baldacci of CNN, Nanlin Fang and Yong Xiong contributed to this report.

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