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Duke Chinese student leaders respond to the official who sent an offensive email

The members of the Asian and international student groups at Duke University have a few words for a teacher of Duke whose offensive email address to Chinese university students came to light over the weekend.

Student leaders of Chinese descent spoke with HuffPost after Megan Neely, of the master's program in biostatistics at Duke Medical School, claimed that two faculty members complained about hearing "very loud" spoken Chinese and suggested the The use of the language was "discourteous" and could have "unintended consequences."

"I encourage you to commit to using English 100% of the time when you are in Hock or in any other professional setting," he wrote in an email on Friday.

She left her position as program director, but remains an assistant professor at the school, Michael Schoenfeld, her vice president of public affairs and government relations, confirmed for HuffPost.

The Chronicle, a student newspaper of Duke, reported that Neely sent a similar email in February 2018.

Helen Yang, a Chinese-American student and co-chair of the Duke International Association, said she felt a "combination of anger and confusion" after reading Neely's message.

"I reread screenshots of emails several times in an attempt to make sense of them, only to accept that the only real reason why someone would send that message is due to multiple levels of ignorance." Racism and xenophobia, "Yang said by e-mail." Not only was there a lack of empathy in the way he expressed his feelings, but there was a general indication of foreigners and other taxes to so many students at Duke. "

Michelle Li, president of the Asian Student Association, said it did not take long for e-mail to circulate among Duke students and beyond, making its way to WeChat, a platform for Social networks widely used by those in China Many of the students could "innately relate to the concept of being excluded by speaking a foreign language".

Although Neely insisted that students speak English and claimed that his colleagues were disappointed that Chinese students "were not taking advantage of the opportunity to improve their English," Duke already demands that his students speak English as second language pass a standardized test. Yang language test emphasized that competence in another language does not necessarily indicate insufficient knowledge of English. In addition, conversing in a native language can be an important cultural and personal connection to heritage, he said.

"T or taking someone's agency is incredibly damaging and violent," he added.

Leaders noted that there were recently problematic racial incidents at the university. In 2013, the Kappa Sigma fraternity of the university was criticized for organizing an "Asia Prime" party in which party attendees wore stereotyped cone hats and sumo wrestling suits. And Chinese international students have not always been received by everyone on campus. Sherry Huang, a Chinese student and co-chair of the International Association of the school, said that "[t] here there could be certain stereotypes and labels imposed on Chinese international students by others on campus."

"This is not an isolated incident," Yang said. "This may be an incident that received great national and widespread attention, but there are many … similar sentiments."

The University's Office of Institutional Equity will review the master biostatistics program "to recommend ways in which we can improve the learning environment for students of all backgrounds."

"To be clear: there is absolutely no restriction or limitation in the language used to converse and communicate with each other," Mary Klotman, dean of medical school, said in a message to students. "Your professional opportunities and recommendations will not be affected in any way by the language you use outside of the classroom. And your privacy will always be protected. "

But the student leaders said they want to see more of the university's actions, Yang called the school to avoid treating the controversy as simply" a nightmare of public relations; it is about the identities of so many people. "

" There must be tangible action on the part of the University to address this incident; an apology must be based on meaningful actions, otherwise, it will flatten, "he said." This is about something much bigger than an email, and the University must actively demonstrate that it cares about communities to which it says they serve. "

In addition to the investigation, Li said, the university should disclose the identity of faculty members who allegedly complained to Neely about Chinese-speaking students The results of the research should also be made public, and the program, together with the university in general, should commit to take meaningful measures to avoid discriminatory culture, Li said.


Students said they would like the student body to do much more to establish connections with international students and understand them outside of the wrong stereotypes


" I hope that students, whether international or national, can make more efforts to genuinely approach each other before making assumptions or judgments about their cultures, personalities and socio-economic background, "said Huang.

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