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Duke professor warns Chinese students: Speak English on campus or face 'unintended consequences'

Discussion in 'News & Current Events' started by SummerMadness, Jan 27, 2019.

  1. SummerMadness

    SummerMadness Senior Veteran

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    Duke professor warns Chinese students: Speak English on campus or face 'unintended consequences'
    Heaven forbid that students speak in their native language while conversing with classmates in a lounge. Keyword here: lounge. The professor is less at fault than the professors that wanted to collect the names of students so they can discriminate against them professionally.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2019
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  2. dzheremi

    dzheremi Coptic Orthodox non-Egyptian

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    Why do her colleagues assume that it's an offense to everyone on the floor to not be able to understand every conversation that is going on around them? What if other people don't care, and these colleagues are just being busybodies and getting preemptively offended on others' behalf without reason?
     
  3. Ringo84

    Ringo84 Separation of Church and State expert

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    Two infuriating things for the price of one: first, getting upset because people are speaking another language on campus. The other is trying to ruin students' professional careers because they have the "audacity" to speak their native language.
    Ringo
     
  4. (° ͡ ͜ ͡ʖ ͡ °) (ᵔᴥᵔʋ)

    (° ͡ ͜ ͡ʖ ͡ °) (ᵔᴥᵔʋ) Well-Known Member Supporter

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    US professor removed over 'Speak English' email

    The way I am reading it, the Professor was encouraging the Chinese students to speak English in order to improve their proficiency. It appears that the "unintended consequences" Neely was warning about is poor vocabulary.
     
  5. (° ͡ ͜ ͡ʖ ͡ °) (ᵔᴥᵔʋ)

    (° ͡ ͜ ͡ʖ ͡ °) (ᵔᴥᵔʋ) Well-Known Member Supporter

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    NBC News' Tom Brokaw apologizes after comments on Hispanics spark backlash

    "Brokaw went on to say: "I also happen to believe that the Hispanics should work harder at assimilation. That’s one of the things I’ve been saying for a long time. You know, they ought not to be just codified in their communities but make sure that all their kids are learning to speak English, and that they feel comfortable in the communities. And that’s going to take outreach on both sides, frankly."
    -Tom Brokaw-

    If we applied this standard fairly, should NBC's Tim Brokaw loose his job for the statement he made?
     
  6. dgiharris

    dgiharris Newbie

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    Hmmm.... am I the only one reading this article incorrectly???

    Here is the situation as far as I can see it.

    The Evil forces of "they" are discriminating against students who speak in a foreign language on campus and targeting said students as "not assimilating". These "members" are quietly putting a black list together of foreign students that they deem as "not assimilating" and have asked Neely (the Duke Professor) to help them quietly compile the list.

    Neely (the Duke Professor) emails all the foreign students and in as nice and respectful a way as possible tries to tell them about the Evil forces of they and how speaking a foreign language in public on campus hurts their chances of assimilating and puts them on an unseen invisible blacklist...

    As a result of this warning, Neely takes the full force of the backlash???

    Yeah, I guess no good deed goes unpunished. Neely tried to protect and help minority students by giving them information they needed to avoid harming their prospects and her reward is to be the scape goat for intolerance...

    that is more or less how I see it.

    I guess she should have just kept her mouth shut, let her students hit an invisible ceiling or get blacklisted...

    Or am I missing something here?
     
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  7. SummerMadness

    SummerMadness Senior Veteran

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    Like I said, I think she is less at fault than the professors that seek to target students for speaking a foreign language in a lounge/break room. If anything, her crime is enabling intolerance; she is not protecting anyone by sending this e-mail while not taking any steps to address the discriminatory attitudes of the professors in the department (there is not an invisible "they," faculty members actually complained to her directly). This is not an either-or scenario, this is more about the method chosen to address the situation; rather than treat the students' behavior as the problem to address, the behavior of these professors should be the thing to address. Nonetheless, she might welcome going back to regular work because most people hate the position of program director or department head as it usually involves listening to other faculty members whine/complain... like about hearing students speaking a foreign language and wanting to blacklist them.
     
  8. dgiharris

    dgiharris Newbie

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    I agree with most of what you said but I disagree with there not being an evil "they". If there were no nameless faceless "they" then those professors wouldn't have felt comfortable enough to approach her about those students and assimilating a list. That shows that the "evil they" environment exists. Sure, you can put a name and a face to "some" of them... but definitely not all of them...

    You are right though, yes, those professors are definitely at fault but where I hedge and waiver on is what the professor could have actually done...

    Bear with me, my thoughts on this subject are unrefined as this will be my first attempt trying to articulate them. So I'll be raw and honest. I'll also make some assumptions and deductions.

    Lets assume that this professor-- Neely-- is not racist and wants the best for her students. I also assume that there is a culture of discrimination but the discrimination has more to do with "assimilation" than it does race. As long as you assimilate you are fine, but if you don't then the discrimination kicks in in the form of a blacklist and glass ceiling.

    This culture/atmosphere/environment is systemic and amorphous, it has no singular leader or focal point, it is just kinda there in one of those "always been here will always be here" states of being.

    How can Neely fight that? Changing this sort of culture takes time and societal pressure (which has been happening) but what about her students in the here and now? Similarly, how much risk to her career and standings should Neely accept? Should she be willing to get ostracized by her peers? Should she charge in to board meetings like a rampaging gorilla blasting everyone for their wrongful views? Or should she try to gently and subtly change the environment over time with a nudge here and a nudge there as the opportunities arise?

    What about trying to help the students in another way? What about giving them a warning and letting them know the situation and offering solutions to protect themselves?

    In the end, I don't like the end result here. I would assume there are other non-racist types within this system and all of these types have now seen what happens when you try to "help". So next time something happens, what's the likelihood of non-racists getting involved knowing that just getting involved will probably be the end of their careers as it was for Neely?

    that is what I'm uneasy about. Ultimately, Neely tried to help and in return she is getting flamed, blamed, and punished. So how likely is it that the next person will help when they see something wrong?
     
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  9. SummerMadness

    SummerMadness Senior Veteran

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    I don't think this is an issue of race, that was never expressed here, but I agree with you on aspects of your point, particularly that there is a "they" in a general sense. I would not see a problem if the professor expressed these sentiments at an orientation to international students as a way for them to avoid certain pitfalls, especially when it comes to faculty that may discriminate against them. I might quibble over specific stylistic presentations (you might say a warning letter is a clunky, poorly stylistic choice), but in this particular case, it's not a general "they," it is specific set of people that came to you.

    But just as you want to artfully approach the subject for students, you need to do the same when approaching faculty. I think you're creating a false dichotomy that treats response to faculty as either ignoring them or being a rampaging animal. Perhaps an artful way is to talk to students about the incident, but cultural awareness training for faculty helps a lot. I think there is this idea that this type of training is stupid and does nothing, but discussing topics and exposure to these topics makes a difference. During my PhD program, we had weekly ethics discussions in my lab and I can tell if researchers had similar discussions on a regular basis simply by listening to how they discuss topics of scientific integrity. Those weekly discussions change your attitudes because it puts a nugget in the back of your mind that always comes back to you when you confront a scientific dilemma. Likewise, faculty members wanting to discriminate against foreign students suggests that they don't discuss such topics besides receiving a packet when they started saying discrimination is wrong. If you required faculty to do more professional training, particularly cultural awareness training, they'll hear more, "Hey, you shouldn't blacklist people for speaking another language while they are eating lunch/on break, that's actually quite illegal," it gets quite hard for them to justify those views. You might think this simply pushes these people underground, but I tend to think the attitudes of professors wanting to blacklist students is more a sentiment of ignorance than xenophobia.
     
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  10. trunks2k

    trunks2k Contributor

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    What you could be missing is possibility that the whole situation described in the email is a fabrication and Neely's goal was not to warn students, but to get them to speak English - i.e. Neely is mad that students are speaking another language to each other.

    A real warning to students would be: "These people approached me to make a list of graduate students that are, on their own time, speaking their own language among themselves in public and wish to punish those students. That behavior is wrong and I have reported them to the administration. If you believe you have been unfairly targeted for speaking a language other than English, please <insert steps as to what to do here>"
     
  11. MyOwnSockPuppet

    MyOwnSockPuppet Regeneration of myself after computer failure

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    Wonder how she'd cope with the research group I do most of my work with...

    The head of group is Greek, her deputy is from Iran (originally), the academics are Greek and Chinese, the researchers are Greek, Chinese, Indian, Brazilian, Senegalese, Nigerian, British, Mexican, Japanese, Canadian, Portuguese and French. The admin staff are British, Polish, Spanish and Czech.

    Everyone pretty much has to speak English on social occasions. Not from any idiotic edict from an assistant professor, it's the only language everyone speaks.
     
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