WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Laney College in Oakland Professor Matthew Hubbard has been put on administrative leave following an incident where he asked his freshman Vietnamese-American student, Phuc Bui Diem Nguyen, to “Anglicize” her name.
- Nguyen said that Hubbard did not even ask her how to pronounce her name and that she felt discriminated.
- In his interview with the New York Times, Hubbard admitted that he was wrong, saying that his request was “very offensive.”
According to reports, a California community college professor was put on administrative leave following an incident where he asked his freshman Vietnamese-American student to “Anglicize” her name because it sounds an “insult in English.”
Just on the second day of her online class, Laney College-Oakland student Phuc Bui Diem Nguyen was asked by her Math Professor Matthew Hubbard, through an email, to change her name. The email was shared with CNN.
Nguyen told CNN that Hubbard did not ask how to pronounce her name. She told the professor that she felt discriminated and warned that she would file a complaint if he won’t use her name.
Instead of granting Nguyen’s plea, Hubbard said that pronouncing her name in English sounds like “F—Boy.”
“If I lived in Vietnam and my name in your language sounded like Eat a D—, I would change it to avoid embarrassment,” he said, according to CNN.
Nguyen said she initially doesn’t know what “Anglicize” meant when Hubbard asked her.
“I never heard that before. At that moment I was surprised, so I Googled the meaning — I didn’t know what it meant so I called my best friend to ask him what does that mean?” Nguyen told ABC7 News, adding that Hubbard later called her as “P-Nguyen.”
“I was shook because growing up, they were problems with how to pronounce my name, but they would ask me how to pronounce my name,” she said.
In a statement, college President Tammeil Gilkerson said: “We are aware of the allegations of racist and xenophobic messages from a faculty member at our college with a student about the pronunciation of their name. We take these allegations seriously and immediately placed the faculty member on administrative leave pending an investigation.”
In his interview with The New York Times, Hubbard explained that there were two people in his class with the last name Nguyen.
He said that he initially sent an email to avoid confusion with the other student and that he was also uncomfortable of using Nguyen’s name.
Eventually, he requested all his students to update their Zoom names based on their last name and their first initial, admitting that his first email to Nguyen “was a mistake” to think about another student “willing to Anglicize.”
“But it’s a big difference 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,” he told The Times.
Source: New York Post