Duke official apologizes for being 'insensitive' to CCP

In an email sent to all undergraduate engineering students, the assistant director of DEI programs apologized for 'an incorrect and insensitive statement' mentioning Tibet.

The diversity officer had implied in an email that China and Tibet were two separate countries.

A DEI officer at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering recently apologized to students and staff for being “insensitive” to the communist “government of China.” 

In an email commemorating the Lunar New Year, Quaina M. Tyson, Pratt’s assistant director of DEI programs and initiatives, had apparently suggested that Tibet was a separate country from China. 

”The Lunar New Year is a collection of holidays celebrated in culturally unique ways throughout Vietnam, Korea, China and Tibet,” Tyson wrote. 

Campus Reform obtained Tyson’s Jan. 25 email to the Pratt community in which she acknowledged that “Tibet is part of China and not a separate country.” 

In the email, she described her original characterization of Tibet as being an “incorrect and insensitive statement to the Chinese community and the government of China.” 

Campus Reform spoke with a student at Duke Kunshan University, an institutional collaboration between Duke University and Wuhan University, located in China. 

The student, who requested anonymity, said that the initial email was “not problematic because the person sending this email was just highlighting the regions where the Lunar New Year is celebrated.”

”Tibet maintains a culture of people distinct from the remainder of China and is home to people who are not ethnically Han Chinese,” the student explained.

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Furthermore, the student said that Tyson’s apology “seems out of place and certainly inappropriate for such an inconsequential and innocuous comment,” noting that Tyson’s email also “prompt[es] the CCP narrative that a supposed grievance towards the Chinese government is an affront to each Chinese citizen.” 

In 2014, the Duke Chronicle interviewed university board member Xiqing Gao about the political reality of the Duke-Wuhan partnership.

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”I know there is a certain line you don’t want to cross,” Gao said to the outlet regarding the Chinese government’s stance on free speech that goes against its policies. 

”Talk about Taiwan going independent and then maybe you have a problem,” the Duke Chronicle quoted Gao saying. “There [is] certain speech we can’t have.” 

Campus Reform reached out to Xiqing Gao, Quaina M. Tyson, Duke University, and Jerome Lynch, Dean of the Pratt School for Engineering, for comment; this article will be updated.