California’s Laney College has put a professor on leave after he asked a Vietnamese-American student to “Anglicize” her name, saying its pronunciation sounded “like an insult” in English, reported Newsweek.
In an email chain that was shared on social media, student Phuc Bui Diem Nguyen responded to professor Matthew Hubbard by writing, “Your request to ‘Anglicize’ my name feels discriminatory and I will move forward with filing a complaint with the Title IX if you can not refer to me by my given birth name.”
Hubbard then reiterated his request: “Your name in English sounds like F**k Boy. If I lived i[n] Vietnam and my name in your language sounded like Eat a D**k, I would change it to avoid embarrassment both on my part and on the part of the people who had to say it.”
In a letter to its community, Laney College stated it was aware of the “racist and xenophobic messages” sent from one of its faculty members and is investigating the incident.
“We want our students to feel safe and know that we honor their backgrounds, their experiences and everything that makes them unique. They are everything that is beautiful about our college,” wrote Dr. Tammeil Gilkerson, Laney’s president.
Meanwhile, Hubbard told NBC Bay Area News that he had initially posted an apology on Twitter but deleted it due to backlash. According to him, his now-deleted tweet said, “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.”
The screenshots of Hubbard and Nguyen’s email exchange has been shared more than 49,000 times on Twitter and has been liked by nearly 55,000 people on Instagram.
In the original post on Instagram, Nguyen’s sister wrote, “So I’m disgusted and disappointed. … this teacher had the ignorance and audacity to tell my sister to anglicize her name is disgusting. … As a professor, he should be trying to learn her name and culture and not try to whitewash her name.”