Thursday, July 16 2020


American professor suspended after demanding Vietnamese student Anglicise her name

Update: June, 19/2020 - 15:43


A screenshot of the email exchange between Matthew Hubbard and Phuc Bui Diem Nguyen. Photo

HÀ NỘI — A university professor in the US has been placed on leave after he twice demanded a student of Vietnamese heritage 'Anglicise' her name as he said it “sounds like an insult in English".

Matthew Hubbard, an adjunct professor at Laney College’s Applied Tech Department, asked Phuc Bui Diem Nguyen to change her name to sound less like an insult in English, according to screenshots of an email conversation between the two shared on Instagram by Nguyen’s sister.

When Nguyen replied that the request “felt discriminatory” and threatened to file a complaint with the university against him if Hubbard refused to use her birth name, the professor doubled down.

“Your name in English sounds like Fuck Boy. If I lived in Vietnam and my name sounded like Eat a Dick, I would change it to avoid embarrassment both on my part and on the part of the people who had to say it. I understand you are offended, but you need to understand your name is an offensive sound in my language. I repeat my request,” he replied.


Hubbard was unrepentant after being challenged by Nguyen. Photo

Laney College, a public community college in Oakland, California, said in a statement signed by President Dr Tammeil Gilkerson that the college was “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”.

The statement went on to say the college takes the accusations seriously and that the unnamed faculty member, believed to be Hubbard, had been placed on “administrative leave pending an investigation”.

The incident caused a vociferous backlash on social media, with many characterising Hubbard's comments as racist.

Hubbard declined to comment for this story. — VNS


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