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Prof to Student: Your Name 'Sounds Like an Insult'

Matthew Hubbard is on administrative leave at Oakland's Laney College
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2020 12:30 PM CDT
Prof in Trouble After Telling Student to Change Her Name
Stock image.   (Getty Images)

An Oakland professor is on administrative leave after urging a student to "anglicize" her name—which he said "sounds like an insult in English." Matthew Hubbard, who teaches math at Laney College, told the Vietnamese student by email to change her name, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. "Could you Anglicize your name," he wrote her, per a Twitter post. "Phuc Bui sounds like an insult in English." But the student, Phuc Bui Diem Nguyen, wrote back that his "request ... feels discriminatory and I will move forward with filing a complaint with the Title IX Office if you can not refer to me by my given birth name."

Yet Hubbard doubled down, writing that if he lived in Vietnam and had a similar name, he "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." After the email chain went viral, Laney College said Thursday that Hubbard was put on leave pending an investigation. Hubbard hasn't spoken to the media, but Phuc tells ABC7 that she was looking forward to using her real name in college after going by the nickname "May" for years. "He's being an ignorant person and not trying to learn my name," she says, adding that "it means happiness, blessing." (Read more names stories.)

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