Arizona student fights for English only at college as law requires
Student fights back after school punishes her for insisting law be obeyed
It has been almost a year since Terri Bennett, a nursing student at Pima Community College in Tucson, Ariz., asked school administrators to ensure that students speak English in her class so she could properly ask questions and learn the subject matter.
Yet after making that reasonable request, she says the director of the nursing program called her a “bigot” and other vicious names. Then she was later slapped by the college with a nine-month suspension.
It is incredible to think that this can happen in the United States, where the motto “E Pluribus Unum — “Out of many, one” — has been the traditional assimilation model for everyone who seeks to be an American united by our common English tongue.
It is happening more and more, with the Bennett case being one of the most egregious examples to date.
Ms. Bennett was assigned to student and laboratory projects, and was often the only English speaker in her group. She felt excluded and found the learning environment outright hostile to English speakers.
Why would the taxpayer-supported institution tolerate such an atmosphere? Why did it react with such hostility toward her? Administrators even humiliated the nursing student in front of classmates by serving her with suspension papers and having police escort her off of the campus.
The ball started rolling last July 13 when the college was served with a complaint seeking administrative review. Two days later, a complaint seeking monetary damages against the school was filed on behalf of Ms. Bennett in Superior Court in Tucson.
In late August, Pima Community College filed a response, denying any wrongdoing and even claiming that the student was at fault. So unless the school changes its position, the Bennett case is ready for trial.
The Arizona Constitution — the state’s most fundamental set of laws — is as clear as day: “Representatives of government in this state shall preserve, protect and enhance the role of English as the official language of the government of Arizona.”
Not only did the state-run and publicly funded Pima Community College fail to protect the use of English in the classrooms, it blatantly violated the very next provision of Arizona’s Constitution: “A person shall not be discriminated against or penalized in any way because the person uses or attempts to use English in public or private communication.”
Ms. Bennett sought nothing more than a classroom environment where all students regardless of their backgrounds could communicate freely with each other and without barriers in their quest for learning.
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