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It appears that a new outbreak of the epidemic is on the loose in Catalonia: but this one belongs to the other epidemic, the so-called catalanophobia - discrimination against the Catalan language - which has recently raised alarms in the country's university lecture theatres. First there was the case of teacher Jordi Juanico at Barcelona's Universitat Autònoma (UAB), who submitted his resignation from the master's course he was lecturing, before the university relented and allowed him to keep giving the classes in Catalan, rather than the Castilian (Spanish) it sought to impose. Now it is the turn of two professors from the Universitat de Barcelona (UB), ​​Lluís Pujadas and Oriol Ros, who are teaching an official master's degree in neuroscience. Both have denounced on Twitter the email they received from the coordinator of studies, which could be summarized as follows: on the one hand, that "if there was even one student who does not understand Catalan, the class must be given in Spanish"; on the other, that teachers who refuse to teach in Spanish get substituted. "In short: many inappropriate proposals and employer threats of ideological expulsion of master's teachers," Pujadas explained.

Ros related how his class "led to the email from the master's degree coordinator." "Having given the class in English, I came up against intransigence from foreign students over the answers I gave in Catalan to questions asked by Catalan-speaking students," he said. The teacher then replied to the coordinator's email "clarifying that the class had been given in English and that he believed that Catalan-speaking students were annoyed by this recurring attitude of disdain [for Catalan] by students from outside Catalonia."

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Start of Oriol Ros' Twitter thread on the latest episode of "catalanophobia" at the UB / @Neutronking

Ros went on to note that the master's coordinator did not respond, and only forwarded the email with Ros's point of view to the professors responsible for the subjects when Ros demanded it. "I felt stressed and defenceless: two weeks ago we contacted the rectorate's language policy area to convey this situation to them and no one considered it appropriate to get back to us," he lamented.

Pujadas also stated that he had "asked the UB to take the necessary actions in the face of the situation generated, to disauthorize those currently coordinating the master's courses and give a rectification to all the master's teachers". In addition, he raises a series of questions for the university itself: first, "is the official position of the UB, when someone says they don't understand Catalan, to impose Spanish on teachers and other students?"; second, "if the answer is affirmative, would the inverse situation also occur?"; and a third question, "in case of a conflict of rights, which would prevail?"

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Start of Lluís Pujadas's Twitter thread about the episode of catalanophobia at the UB / @lpujadas

The teacher went on to explain that he has "always" ensured that "everyone learns the material imparted and that language is not an obstacle". "I have usually done it in Catalan, facilitating multilingual interaction in class and offering additional unlimited time after class," he said. Accordingly, he has found that "there is no-one needs to repeat the class in Spanish". And he thus asserts that "master's classes can be given in Catalan, students can learn just as easily, and thus the rights of all students and all teachers are guaranteed".

In conclusion, Pujades adds that "the problem lies in some people's internalized conception that Catalan is not good for everything and that it is necessary to exclude it from the university". "People who think like this can't coordinate master's degrees at Catalan public universities," he affirmed.


Main image: Facade of the University of Barcelona / ACN