The director of the Duke School of Medicine's biostatistics master's program, Megan Neely resigns her position after she sent an email asking Chinese students not to speak their mother tongue as it was ''impolite'' and could lead to ''unintended consequences.''
Last Friday, two faculty members complained to Neely saying that they heard fellow students speaking ''very loudly'' in the university premises. According to the locals, international students should have used the opportunity to improve their English. The bolded message by the director also read that it was impolite to speak in a language that not everyone on the floor can understand. She also recommended them to stick to the English language when in a professional setting in the faculty.
Neely also confirmed that some of the faculty members wanted her help to identify the students in question and to find out whether they have applied for an internship or were interviewed by the department for a master project.Mary Klotman, the Medical School Dean, confirmed the authenticity of the letter, pointing out that there were restrictions on the language the students use to communicate with each other. Klotman also added that the students' career opportunities and recommendations would not be affected based on the language they speak outside of the classroom. She also emphasized that students' privacy is a priority for the university and it will be respected.
In addition to that, Klotman stated that she would be working in collaboration with the University's Office of Institutional Equity to review the biostatistics master's curriculum and to recommend areas of improvement for the learning environment for international students.
The e-mail went viral during the weekend, urging all students to sign a petition forcing the university to investgate the case which the students called ''apparently discriminatory actions against international students.'' The petition gathered more than 1,900 signature and has been shared hundreds of times on Twitter and the Chinese social media site Weibo. The hashtag “Duke University bans speaking Chinese” got 6.7 million views.
The Duke's Asian Students Association and International Association came up with a joint statement calling the email inappropriate and unprofessional. Reportedly, Neely sent a similar message last year as well. Although the authenticity of her last letter was confirmed, Neely remains an assistant professor at Duke University.
What do you think, should the international students be allowed to speak in their mother tongue while in university?