Duke University professor steps down over 'Speak English' email: report

A Duke University professor stepped down Saturday after sparking outrage for an email that encouraged her Chinese students to improve their English by committing to speaking it "100 percent of time."

Megan Lee Neely, an assistant professor of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, reportedly emailed the students Friday in response to complaints by two of her colleagues who said they were disappointed that the students “were not taking the opportunity to improve their English,” according to screenshots of the exchange that was posted online.

Neely encouraged her students to “commit to using English 100 percent of the time” on campus and professional settings and “keep these unintended consequences in mind when you chose to speak Chinese,” according to the university’s paper, The Duke Chronicle.

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Screenshots of the email exchange made the rounds on social media and stoked outrage. Medical school dean Mary E. Klotman apologized to Neely’s students in a letter and said that Duke’s Office of Institutional Equity will investigate the incident.

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"To be clear," Klotman wrote, "there is absolutely no restriction or limitation on the language you use to converse and communicate with each other. Your career opportunities and recommendations will not in any way be influenced by the language you use outside the classroom."