A Duke University assistant professor resigned from her leadership role over the weekend amid backlash for sending an email to students advising them to speak English “100% of the time.”

Megan Neely, director of graduate studies for Duke’s Master of Biostatistics program, sent an email to students Friday citing complaints by “two separate faculty members” about students speaking Chinese in class and “not taking the opportunity to improve their English.”

“I have no idea how hard it has been and still is for you to come to the US and have to learn in a non-native language,” she wrote, CNN reported. “As such, I have the upmost [sic] respect for what you are doing. That being said, I encourage you to commit to using English 100% of the time when you are in Hock [Plaza] or any other professional setting.”

Ms. Neely stepped down from her director position Saturday and said her email “was not appropriate.”

“I deeply regret the hurt my email has caused,” Ms. Neely wrote Sunday in an email signed jointly with Department Chair Elizabeth DeLong, The Duke Chronicle reported. “It was not my intention. Moving forward, it is my sincerest wish that every student in the Master of Biostatistics is successful in all of their endeavors.”

Mary Klotman, dean of the School of Medicine, said in a separate email to students that “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,” Ms. Klotman wrote, The Chronicle reported. “And your privacy will always be protected.”

Chinese students in Ms. Neely’s program are reportedly demanding the administration investigate the instructor.

The Executive Committee of the Academic Council plans to discuss the matter at its Jan. 30 meeting, The Chronicle reported.

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