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Duke University professor demoted after telling students to speak only English

Devdiscourse News Desk United States
Updated: 29-01-2019 07:31 IST
Duke University professor demoted after telling students to speak only English

A Duke University professor has stepped down as a program head after telling students to speak only English in faculty buildings, the university said on Monday. Megan Neely, assistant professor of biostatistics at the North Carolina university, sent an email to students on Friday saying she had received complaints from two faculty members about graduate students speaking Chinese "VERY LOUDLY" in student lounge and study areas.

"I encourage you to commit to using English 100 % of the time when you are in Hock or any other professional setting," Neely said in the email to students, a copy of which was provided by the university. Her email was distributed widely on social media. Neely stepped down on Saturday as director of graduate studies for the university's Master of Biostatistics Program but will continue her faculty teaching, Duke said in a statement. Mary Klotman, dean of Duke University School of Medicine, apologized to students for Neely's email and said the department would review its biostatistics program.

"There is absolutely no restriction or limitation on the language you use to converse and communicate with each other," Klotman said in a letter on Saturday. In her email, Neely said the two faculty members wanted to identify the students who had been speaking in Chinese so they could "remember them" if they ever interviewed for an internship or asked to work with them for a master's project.

"They were disappointed that these students were not taking the opportunity to improve their English and were being so impolite as to have a conversation that not everyone on the floor could understand," Neely said in the email. "To international students, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep these unintended consequences in mind when you choose to speak in Chinese in the building," she added.

Klotman said students' career opportunities and recommendations would not be influenced by what language they chose to use outside the classroom. Duke has about 175 undergraduates from China, out of a total 6,800, and 1,300 graduate and professional students from China across all schools and departments, out of a total of about 8,500, the university said. "I deeply regret the hurt my email has caused. It was not my intention," Neely said in a statement distributed by Duke.

(With inputs from agencies.)

COUNTRY : United States