Charged Chinese Student Accusing UMass for Not Providing Language Assistance

Mar 5, 2019 by

When it comes to learning a foreign language, we always feel that as long as you stay sometime in a county where the native tongue is that language, you could naturally acquire the ability of speaking it without too much difficulty. A Chinese student at UMass Amherst Campus recently sued the university for violating human rights by not providing translators – because he couldn’t understand English, as he claimed.

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The student, Shaopin Lee (pseudonym), is a junior majoring in architecture at the University of Massachusetts. He was suspended March 28 on a criminal charge filed March 27.

Lee was charged and suspended because of an incident on March 27. At about two o ‘clock in the morning, Shaopin Lee was awakened by the noise. He suspected that the dormitory had been broken into, so he took up the art knife to check, and found that it was his roommate brushing his teeth. “Do you know what time it is?” he asked. The roommate apologized immediately. Shortly after he fell asleep again, he was woken up and arrested by the police. The roommate told the police that du repeatedly pushed the blade out and took it back, and the roommate thought he would be hurt, so he called the police.

At the university of Massachusetts, if a student is accused of misconduct, the university’s policy is to hand it over to the Dean of Students Office. However, the school did not provide a translator when dealing with this matter. However, Shaopin Lee’s native language is Chinese, and he has difficulty in communicating in English. He does not understand the police questioning at the time of arrest, and cannot explain why he thought his roommate was an intruder, nor does he understand most of the process of the meeting.

Du sued the university and two student administrators on April 12 for violating the fifth and 14th amendments to the constitution and article 6 of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by prohibiting public universities from discriminating against students based on their nationality. He said he had not communicated well with the university because of language barriers, that the university did not provide a translator or give him a chance to explain himself, and that he was treated differently from American students.

Mr. Lee’s lawyer said that because Mr. Lee would leave the country after graduation, the university assumed that the suit would not be filed and that the university would not treat American students in the same way.

The lawyer added that the university later wrote back stating that when they met Mr. Lee on March 28, he was able to discuss the incident in English and had said he didn’t need an interpreter. Moreover, Shaopin Lee has read seven semesters of courses, showing that English should be barrier-free. But he had told his roommate that before coming to the United States, he had asked a Chinese translation company to translate his visa application.

Mr. Lee’s criminal charges have not been dropped, and the suspension will likely prevent him from completing his work by may. Although he has enough credits, his failure to return to school and finish his homework will still have a big impact.

Intriguingly, Asian faces are not uncommon on the University of Massachusetts campus. According to the school, 12 percent of its freshmen were Asian students in 2017.

About the University:

The University of Massachusetts, commonly known as the University of Massachusetts (UMASS), is a well-known public university system in the United States. Originated from established in 1863 in the United States, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, has now developed into a famous American public university system, and has five campuses, including the university of Massachusetts Amherst, at the Stern, the University of Massachusetts Boston campus, University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, University of Massachusetts at Lowell, enjoying a very high academic reputation in the world, as the leading research institutions in the system, and the Massachusetts medical school is a world class university. In addition, the university of Massachusetts AI (artificial intelligence) has maintained the top eight in the US NEWS. In 2016, the latest US NEWS comprehensive rankings of universities in the United States, Amherst Campus ranked 75th.

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  1. Avatar
    Allen Wheeler

    Quite an interesting story. The school needs to take some “additional measures” to make sure all of their overseas students get decent level of English language ability…

  2. Avatar
    Jung Liu

    This student is rediculous. He is in a unversity of an English-speaking country, and he still claims that he can’t speak English….

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