Written by: Encina Roh, SFU Student
Liang’s article is a sobering critique of Megan Neely, an assistant professor at Duke University, who sent an email regarding international students having conversations in Chinese. In the email, Neely called these students “unprofessional” and “impolite.” The email quickly went viral on social media, leading to Neely resigning from her position as the director of graduate studies in response to the outrage.
Liang’s article talks about the uncomfortable implications of Neely using her position of power to “coerce” international students into speaking English, and her implied intent to eliminate the familiarity that international students have with their native language in a foreign country. She follows that it would be vastly discriminatory if internships and research positions were indeed given based on Neely’s absurd value of using exclusively English in private conversations. After all, these foreign students would not have been enrolled at Duke had their English skills been deemed insufficient in work and school.
Liang calls out Neely’s email as a deplorable example of the subtle yet ongoing discrimination against Asians in the West that hides under a cruel guise of well-meaning advice. For Duke to uphold their identity as an “elite university,” they’re right to be discouraging this sort of behaviour in their professors, and they have to protect student diversity and inclusivity through their language.