Chinese official asks for transpositional thinking over U.S. university 'No Chinese' row
Updated 21:02, 29-Jan-2019
CGTN

A Chinese official suggests people to put themselves in other's shoes, when commenting on the "No Chinese" row at Duke University.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang asked what students would think if a Chinese university banned international students speaking in their native language, in reply to a journalist's question.

People would have the same feeling, he said in a daily news briefing on Tuesday.

A file photo of Duke University. /VCG Photo

A file photo of Duke University. /VCG Photo

Megan Neely, assistant professor at Duke University and previously director of graduate studies for the Master of Biostatistics program, said in an email to students that speaking Chinese could lead to “unintended consequences” for international students that might harm their careers.

She has since stepped down from her position.

The emails went viral internationally on social media after surfaced on Saturday, and has triggered criticism and debates globally.

Photo of the email posted online by students of Duke University. /Photo via Twitter

Photo of the email posted online by students of Duke University. /Photo via Twitter

Another email from her was posted later with the subject "To Speak English or To Not Speak English…" Written one year ago, this email roughly matches the other, pointing out that many faculty members, including the Chair of the Department, have similar complaints.

Duke has confirmed the authenticity of the two posted emails.

A photo of the email by Megan Neely posted online by students of Duke University. /Photo via Twitter

A photo of the email by Megan Neely posted online by students of Duke University. /Photo via Twitter

The Dean of Duke's Medical School sent a letter of apology to students the following day, stating that "there is absolutely no restriction or limitation on the language you use to converse and communicate with each other," and that "your career opportunities and recommendations will not in any way be influenced by the language you use outside the classroom."

She also promises in the letter that students' privacy "will always be protected," and there will be a thorough review to improve the learning environment for students from all backgrounds.

Professor Neely's email was widely spread across global social media platforms, sparking outrage. Many pointed out that the school has no say in what language students speak outside the classroom, and that it is ridiculous to link it with career opportunities.

A comment by a netizen online. /Photo via Twitter

A comment by a netizen online. /Photo via Twitter

Some Chinese social media users question the responsibility of the two unnamed faculty members mentioned in the email. A petition has been submitted by a group of "concerned students" at Duke, calling for an independent investigation into the incident overall.

Though she has stepped down from her position as program director, Professor Neely remains an assistant professor at the university, according to The Chronicle, Duke's student news media.

Roughly 60 percent of Duke University's international students come from China. In the graduate program of Biostatistics Department, 36 out of the total 54 students are Chinese.

According to The New York Times, universities in the U.S. have seen a decline in international student enrollment, partly because of President Trump's restrictive views on immigration.