A California college professor was placed on administrative leave after asking his student twice to anglicize her name because it sounded offensive.
What We Know:
- Matthew Hubbard, a college professor at Laney College in Oakland, California told his Vietnamese-American student, Phuc Bui Diem Nguyen that her name sounded “like an insult in English.” Nguyen goes by the name of May and was excited to use her legal name when she started school at the community college. Hubbard told her to change her name to something more English-sounding.
- Nguyen had never heard the term ‘anglicized’ before and Googled the meaning. According to KGO, the emails between her and Hubbard were exposed to social media. In the email, Hubbard says, “I understand you are offended, but you need to understand your name is an offensive sound in my language. I repeat my request” after Nguyen said the request was “discriminatory” and that she would file a complaint with the Title IX Office.
- Hubbard made a public apology on Twitter, but the account has been deleted. He wrote, “I apologize for my insensitive actions which caused pain and anger to my student, and which have now caused pain and anger to an untold number of people who read my two inappropriate emails on the internet”.
- Lacey College President, Dr. Tammeil Gilkerson issued a statement as well saying the incident involved ‘racist and xenophobic messages’. He says Hubbard was immediately placed on administrative leave when the incident occurred.
- Hubbard claims the first email was a mistake and that there are two students with the last name Nguyen in his class and he initially meant to send the email to the other student asking them if they were willing to Anglicize their name. “It’s a big different with someone doing it voluntarily and asking someone to do it. The second email is very offensive, and if I had waited eight hours, I would’ve written something very different,” Hubbard says.
According to the New York Times, Lacey College has more than 16,000 students with 29 percent of them being Asian. Nguyen says her name brings her happiness and that no one should be embarrassed of their name, but they should be proud.