A Duke University professor has stepped down after it was made public that she sent a mass email to Chinese graduate students telling them that they needed to speak English “100% of the time.” Dr. Megan Neely told the students that there could be “unintended consequences” if they were overheard speaking Chinese in a professional setting.
The Daily Mail reports that Neely instructed the students that they all needed to improve their English if they wanted to gain access to internships. Neely has now stepped down as the director of graduate studies at the school in Durham, North Carolina.
Dr. Neely told the students in the email that their English would not improve if they didn’t speak it all of the time.
“I encourage you to commit to using English 100% of the time when you are in Hock or any other professional setting.”
She continued saying that she had gotten complaints from other professors that students were conversing in their native languages when having lunch or on breaks.
“Both faculty members picked out a small group of first-year students who they observed speaking Chinese (in their words, VERY LOUDLY) in the student lounge/study areas.”
What in the entire hot hell https://t.co/HoMfTP2ksF— The Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom (@tressiemcphd) January 27, 2019
This latest email is one of two sent by Neely under the heading of “Something to think about” advising the students that things would go better for them if they followed these directions.
“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’s tone in the email was to warn students that their success was tied to only speaking English in school buildings because professors were “keeping lists” of those caught speaking Chinese on the Duke campus.
A photo of the email was passed around campus, tweeted, and retweeted with petitions calling for Neely’s termination. Mary E. Klotman, Dean of the Duke University School of Medicine says that by Saturday, Dr. Neely asked to step down from her position.
“Dr. Neely has asked to step down as director of graduate studies for the master’s program effective immediately and will be replaced by an interim DGS to be named shortly.”
Dr. Klotman continued telling students that there are no restrictions on the language a student uses on or off campus and that a student’s success or lack thereof will not depend on the language that they speak particularly in social settings.
“Your career opportunities and recommendations will not in any way be influenced by the language you use outside the classroom.”