Duke U. Administrator Steps Down After Telling International Students to Speak English on Campus

A Duke University administrator who advised graduate students by email to speak English while on the campus will step down immediately as director of graduate studies in biostatistics, the university announced. 

On Friday, Megan Neely, who is also an assistant professor of biostatistics and bioinformatics, emailed students in the program to report that two faculty members had asked her for pictures to identify graduate students. She said the professors wanted to identify some students who were speaking Chinese in a student lounge area.

"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," she wrote.

In the email, Neely advised international students to speak English "100% of the time" in any "professional setting" on the campus.

A petition was soon distributed urging Duke to investigate Neely's "discriminatory emails."

"We are disheartened … when Duke's faculty members implied that students of diverse national origin would be punished in academic and employment opportunities for speaking in their native language outside of classroom settings," read the petition.

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