Donald Trump’s New Cold War with Beijing has caught Chinese foreign students at American universities in its crosshairs. His administration has tightened restrictions on their visas, accused them of spying for the Chinese state and its high tech giants, and in the process whipped up a climate of Anti-Asian racism.
Trump’s policies have yielded bitter fruit most recently at Duke University. The chair of the graduate program in biostatics, Megan Neely, in the wake of complaints from a couple of faculty members about Chinese grad students “speaking Chinese (in their words VERY LOUDLY)” in the student lounge and study areas, wrote an email scolding them for speaking their native language.
She told students to “commit to using English 100 percent of the time” while in department buildings or “any other professional setting.” Even worse she warned them that if they didn’t it might impact their ability to get internships and jobs. She told them “PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep these unintended consequences in mind when you choose to speak Chinese”.
This was not the first time that Neely had criticized students for speaking a language besides English in their private time. Last year she sent a message to all the biostatistics students saying, “I don’t like being the language police [but] … speaking in your native language in the department may give faculty the impression that you are not trying to improve your English skills and…