Duke of Only English

Megan Neely

Duke University

Megan Neely

Camilo Zeballos, Reporter

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On Friday January 25th Duke University professor Megan Neely wrote an e-mail to first year students of the Master of Biostatistics program warning them against speaking Chinese in public and professional areas on campus.

Megan Neely was the head of the Biostatistics program and sent the message allegidly due to complaints from two teachers who had heard the Chinese students speaking in their native tongue in the dorms common area. In her e-mail she expressed that both teachers approached her and asked to see pictures of all the first year students, and how after showing them they, “picked out a small group of first-year students who they observed speaking Chinese.” When she asked the teacher why they wanted to see their pictures they said, “they wanted to write down the names so they could remember them if the students ever interviewed for an internship or asked to work with them for a master’s project.”She goes on to type in bold and underlined text that the faculty members 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 then tells them to, “commit to using English 100% of the time.” when in a public or professional setting.

This e-mail immediately received backlash and many angry Chinese students took to social media to retaliate this message. Eventually it was also found out that this had not been the first e-mail of this kind to be sent by Professor Neely. In February of 2018 another e-mail was sent with a very similar message.

Since then the dean of Duke University has come out to say that there is, “absolutely no restriction or limitation on language,” and that, “he Biostatistics Department respect the value of every student, every culture and every language that is spoken.” Neely also has stepped down as department head, and while she will still hold her position as assistant professor this is a major blow to her career. Neely also put out a public apology for any offense her e-mail caused and that it was not her intent to cause it.