There are renewed calls for justice in the death of 21-year-old Yang Yan, a Chinese student at the Denton US Aviation Academy, following a tweet that calls out the lack of attention to the details surrounding Yan’s death.
“Yang Yan, a student at the U.S. Aviation Academy in Denton, TX committed suicide after extreme racist harassment and bullying,” the tweet from user JC (@taiwanesebaby) said in a June 5 tweet. “I’ve heard nothing about it. This is what we mean when we say people don’t give a [s—] about Asians. I’m broken. Spread this [s—] NOW.”
The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s office ruled Yan’s death on April 16 as a suicide and a funeral was held on May 13. Demonstrators protested at the funeral, holding signs that read, “Justice for Yang” and “End Discrimination Now,” according to CBS 11.
“US Aviation Academy’s faculty, staff and fellow students are all mourning the tragic loss of Yang Yan, and our sincerest condolences go out to his loved ones,” said Scott Sykes, the Vice President of Business Development at US Aviation via email. “Our faculty and staff are committed to working with our student leaders and international airline partners to bring understanding and healing following this tragedy.”
Fellow students at the academy spoke anonymously and said that “instructors generally disregard Chinese students,” and that Yan had a hard time getting enough hours of training to advance as a pilot, according to CBS 11.
“On the contrary, US Aviation Academy is a trusted partner of the world’s largest international airlines,” Sykes said when asked for comment on the anonymous students’ claims. “For the past 13 years, US Aviation has worked alongside the world’s largest airlines and has trained over 2,000 international pilots. We have grown from 30 Chinese students per year to over 340 Chinese students a year across our campuses. We have the highest regard for our international partnerships and students and work in collaboration with their leadership to develop the highest quality training for our cadets in a safe and professional environment.”
Pictures attached to JC’s tweet show various images of students holding signs that read “I don’t speak English like I am supposed to,” posted underneath a sign that reads “SPEAK ENGLISH At All Times” with the logo of the US Aviation Academy as the header.
When asked if the Academy has an English-only policy, Sykes said the Academy uses “structured English Immersion to fulfill the requirements of the International Civil Aviation mandate that all pilots and air traffic controllers must speak and use English.”
“Structured English Immersion has been proven to be significantly more effective than bilingual education,” he said. “In 2008, The International Civil Aviation mandated that all pilots and air traffic controllers must speak and use English and are required to prove their competence. In fact, some student’s M-1 visas additionally require English proficiency in order to renew.”
Sykes also said that their policies are undergoing a full review by a third party “to ensure the highest adherence to safety and integrity.”
“Our faculty and staff of US Aviation Academy is committed to the safety and well-being of our students and to working with our student leaders and international airline partners to bring understanding and healing following this tragedy,” Sykes said. “We have been and will continue to provide many resources to our students, including access to mental health professionals fluent in both English and Mandarin. We are committed to working with our student leaders and international airline partners to bring understanding and healing following this tragedy.”
A GoFundMe page called Justice for Yan has currently raised a little over $28,000.
Featured image: People hold up signs with “JUSTICE FOR YANG!” and other sayings on them. Courtesy of @taiwanesebaby on Twitter