Yale College Dean Placed On Leave For “Reprehensible” Yelp Reviews

PiersonshieldPierson College Dean June Chu has been a successful academic and administrator at Yale University.  However, that stellar record came to a halt — and Chu was put on leave — after it was discovered that she had written reviews on Yelp deemed offensive.  The controversy again raises the question of whether teachers should be subject to discipline for their comments outside of schools. Chu is not accused of saying anything offensive to students or even on campus.  Yet her Yelp comments were enough to force her into a leave of absence.

In one review of a Japanese steakhouse, Chu wrote“I guess if you were a white person who has no clue what mochi is, this would be fine for you . . . if you are white trash, this is the perfect night out for you!”  She also described a theater as having “sketchy crowds (despite it being in new haven)” and a movie theater as having “barely educated morons trying to manage snack orders for the obese and also try to add $7 plus $7.”

Chu issued a public apology that said “There are no two ways about it. Not only were they insensitive in matters related to class and race; they demean the values to which I hold myself and which I offer as a member of this community.”

Pierson Head Stephen Davis called the post “reprehensible” and faculty and students denounced Chu as espousing racist and classist sentiments.  After a search, additional problematic comments were reportedly found. Davis’ letter to the faculty and students stated in part:

I am very aware that when I last wrote to you on Saturday morning, it was to ask you to partner with me in envisioning a way forward — to carve out a space for grace — in the aftermath of Dean Chu’s email to the college apologizing for two Yelp reviews in which she had used inappropriate and unacceptable language pertaining to matters of class and race. I did so even though I found the views she expressed to be deeply harmful to our community fabric. I did so because I was convinced that her apology was genuine, because I believed that those posts were not representative of her and of the good work I had seen Dean Chu do in her capacity as dean, and because I still had hope for the possibility of envisioning a path toward healing and reconciliation.

Today I am grieving because I no longer can envision such a way forward. When I wrote to you on Saturday morning, it was with the understanding — and under assurance from Dean Chu, an assurance given to me and to others — that she had posted only two troubling reviews on social media. On Saturday evening, I found out that she was in fact responsible for multiple reprehensible posts, enough to represent a more widespread pattern. The additional posts that surfaced compounded the harm of the initial two, and they also further damaged my trust and confidence in Dean Chu’s accountability to me and ability to lead the students of Pierson College.

Yet, there still remains the question of whether faculty should be subject to discipline for their exercise of free speech outside of this academic work.  As we have previously discussed (including the story involving an Oregon professor), there remains an uncertain line in what language is protected for teachers in their private lives. The incident also raises what some faculty have complained is a double or at least uncertain standard. We have previously discussed controversies at the University of California and Boston University, where there have been criticism of a double standard, even in the face of criminal conduct. There were also such incident at the University of London involving Bahar Mustafa as well as one involving a University of Pennsylvania professor.

Chu was not speaking as a Yale employee or using school resources.  She is not accused of improper conduct at the university.  Do you believe that Chu should be subject to discipline for expressing her views on social media?

97 thoughts on “Yale College Dean Placed On Leave For “Reprehensible” Yelp Reviews”

  1. Question: What would have happened had she made similar online racist comments about black people?
    Answer: She would have been immediately fired.

    If universities want to enforce a no tolerance policy for racism, it should apply to ALL races.

  2. The newest one i read was that the “liberal” member of the “5” show on Fox each night at 9 p.m. told some one in the newsroom as he left his office that a “black” was fixing his computer.
    Yep. you guess it he was “fired” so damn it don’t call me “white” or you be fired.
    I know Fox has it sex problems and they have be taken care of to date and I add to date but really to call a black man black has hit the bottom.

  3. If you want real asian-on-caucasian racism , read the memoirs related to ‘The bridge on the river kwai” or “The Bataan Death March”. You want to read Asian-on-Caucasian empathy read about Pappy Boyington’s life being saved by a Japaness-American when he was captured.
    Guess what? Many East-Asians want real Asian style food.. Some of them might be those living the easy ivory tower bureaucratic life in American Academia. Let the woman have her Mochi her way. Let her rant about it on Yelp. If she gets too lippy, one of the cast of Jerry Springer will push her face in the dirt. Get real.

    1. She wasn’t reviewing the food. She was insulting people she imagined were their primary customers.

      1. The plain facts are: most Caucasians don’t grow up with East Asian culture, some do. Mochi is a very specific type of food. People ignorant.of that don’t know. To my mind she was being elitist food snob mentioning Caucasians who don’t know that culture. YouTube, google it.

        1. The plain facts are:

          The plain facts are that if you want to review the food, tell us how it tastes and tell us the consistency and then tell us how you fancy it should taste. This can be accomplished with out insulting your fanciful conception of who might be interested in this particular fare. She didn’t do that.

  4. I thought her reviews were funny as hell, at least the ones quoted here. Did she say something worse? I read people being called subhumans, mutts, and other deragatory terms on a daily basis with high frequency especially since the backlash to obama. Fired??! She should be hired part time at a comedyclub or somethin

    1. I read people being called subhumans, mutts, and other deragatory terms on a daily basis w

      You hang out with scuzzy people.

  5. A few years ago my sister and I, both “foodies” drove from Charleston, SC to Vegas. She drove – my “job” was to keep the kids occupied and to find a local restaurant wherever we were spending the night. Yelp never did us wrong. I still think of that fabulous German restaurant in Oklahoma or the amazing diner in Albuquerke. The reviews I read were all about the food, service and atmosphere. I never saw reviews like Chu’s – maybe Yelp has changed.

    1. autumn, I agree, Yelp is good. So is Open Table. I’ll also use Road Food for out of the way comfort food places.

  6. Here is an interesting tidbit that I picked up, which is relevant to this thread,”The Baizuo”:

    However, it may surprise you to learn that these people [THE LIBERAL LEFT] aren’t just a joke in America. They are the laughing stock of the world. They are looked down upon, even in countries where they don’t have a significant presence.

    In China for instance, they have a word for these people. They are called “baizuo” or the “white left” on social media. Which is interesting, because even though China has its fair share of socialists and communists, they don’t have a direct equivalent to our liberal snowflakes. Most of the Chinese are still fiercely nationalistic and anti-immigrant, regardless of political affiliation. That country just doesn’t have a large population of politically correct, affluent liberals (presumably, they were all killed off during the Great Leap Forward). So what does this term mean to the average Chinese citizen?

    It might not be an easy task to define the term, for as a social media buzzword and very often an instrument for ad hominem attack, it could mean different things for different people. A thread on “why well-educated elites in the west are seen as naïve “white left” in China” on Zhihu, a question-and-answer website said to have a high percentage of active users who are professionals and intellectuals, might serve as a starting point.

    The question has received more than 400 answers from Zhihu users, which include some of the most representative perceptions of the ‘white left’. Although the emphasis varies, baizuo is used generally to describe those who “only care about topics such as immigration, minorities, LGBT and the environment” and “have no sense of real problems in the real world”; they are hypocritical humanitarians who advocate for peace and equality only to “satisfy their own feeling of moral superiority”; they are “obsessed with political correctness” to the extent that they “tolerate backwards Islamic values for the sake of multiculturalism”; they believe in the welfare state that “benefits only the idle and the free riders”; they are the “ignorant and arrogant westerners” who “pity the rest of the world and think they are saviours”.

    Baizuo has basically become the go to word for Chinese social media users, who want to trash other people in online debates. It’s also frequently used to make light of what is viewed in China, as the inherent weakness of western democracies. So not only has the far-left made themselves into a joke, they’re making everyone else who supports Western civilization look bad all around the world.

    It just goes to show, the people who speak the loudest in society often become the face of that society, even if most sane people aren’t taking them seriously anymore.


    More at the link, and it is worth a read.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  7. I am curious. Do they believe somehow that the faculty of universities do not believe in whites being substandard, or that blue collar workers are morons? Because that’s been the rather consistent attitude. How many papers have been written and lauded by universities that are openly racist against whites? So I don’t understand. Is it merely because this was done on Yelp and not in a peer reviewed journal that makes this not OK? Because this is rather in line with universities.

    Aren’t we all aware of the sneering disdain that Liberals hold for Caucasians as well as blue collar workers? I would be interested to read if she penned a review of anything Southern.

    Has Yale not, then, fallen to the Liberal control of universities? If not, then I’m happy for them.

    As for her posts, comments made outside of the work place, that identify the worker, can reflect poorly on the employer. This often leads to clashes with free speech. If the employer will be materially damaged by the behavior of an employee outside of work hours, then they must let the employee go. That is why some employers, including our government, require online postings to be strictly anonymous, if at all. The employee has the right to voice their opinion, but does the employer have to suffer the damage? It’s a free speech question that gets battled every day, and I can see both sides.

    In my personal opinion, the comments would have to reflect poorly upon the employee’s ability to do their job, or materially damage the company’s reputation, in order for it to be fair to impact employment. In this case, the professor made comments that appear to be racist. Latinos, Africans, and Latvians might not know anything about mochi, either, but they were not referenced. Of course all cultures joke about how others don’t get them. Even sports have their inside jokes on others. But this was very mean spirited. And the second one showed a sneering disdain for blue collar workers. Again, this is not surprising coming from an Ivy League school, even if it does show an academic form of class distinction. A snob is a snob.

    So – do these comments cast doubt on her ability to treat students fairly, and does it materially damage Yale’s reputation? Does she have any history of prejudice against white students or those from working class backgrounds? If “white” was replaced with “black” would it change the judgement of her character? Those are the material questions.

  8. Did her Yelp reviews identify her as being affiliated with Yale? I think that would make a difference. It could be worse. If she was a Republican, they’d sentence her to eight days in the electric chair.

    1. May I suggest everyone go to the Washington Post for a complete read on her reviews.

      This woman had moxy. Play like a girl….beat the boys. You go girl!

      1. CV Brown – Ben Jonson once described his wife as a shrew, but otherwise a decent person. I think that is where Chu is. Some reviewers just have to be mean, because it is all they have. A person with taste knows it is unlikely that there is a decent Japanese place in the area. I have eaten at some of the best Chinese places in SF and they are better than LA. LA is better than Phoenix. Phoenix is better than Albuquerque, etc., etc.,etc. I had Chinese food in NYC, it was horrible, along with the service.

        Oddly enough Phoenix has/had the top pizza making place in America (it is a yearly contest). I have never eaten there. Lines are horrible.

        1. I had Chinese food in NYC, it was horrible, along with the service.

          You picked the wrong place. You might have picked the wrong place in Frisco, too. I’ve seen two passable Chinese places (in Central New York) go to the dogs when they had a change in ownership (or, I’m guessing, management, passing from one family member to another). Some people aren’t conscientious. They shouldn’t be in the restaurant business.

          1. dss – I had dim sum at a place that was down some back alley in SF. It was the best dim sum I have ever had. The worst Chinese food was a place in LA near Disneyland. However it was full of customers, so it was probably me.

        2. Paul re: “Some reviewers just have to be mean, because it is all they have.” Spot on.

    2. 8 Days in the Electric Chair! Fantastic, and apropos. Typically, the law seems to mainly apply to Republicans.

      Which sends me off on a bit of a tangent. Why wasn’t a special prosecutor named when it was discovered that Obamacare was passed on deliberate lies? When Obama declassified information to give to the Russians and they turned around and used it to fire on our allies? Or all of the other scandals involving the weaponization of the DOJ, etc? We got Benghazi hearings, true, but they refused to cooperate with subpoenas for how many years?

  9. This is interesting because I thought PC allowed making fun of white trash and fat people.

      1. autumn, My daughter worked for rival, Target, in high school and college. She LOVES these videos. I’ll send this to her. Thanks.

  10. Whether her comments were made outside of her work environment or inside, they still reflect her character. Her employer should be concerned that she reflects poorly on their institution. The question unanswered is does she demonstrate that behavior in her work environment?

    This reminds me of the outrage surrounding candidate Trump’s rhetoric. Apparently enough people were not concerned with how it reflected on his character to elect him to office. Now that he is President, should he be measured by his campaign rhetoric or the rule of law?

    1. Her attack of white people in general is racist & the kind of this academics don’t like. The “trash” part is behavioral. That’s okay. I’m white, have almost no formal education & have 2 cars parked outside my house with major body parts missing. I might qualify as white trash. Can I grant her dispensation.

      Maybe she accidentally provided a service. I don’t know where the stereotype of meek, submissive Asian women came from. My experience has been their acid-tongued.

      1. Rex,
        The world would be a rather dull place if everyone thought the same. I can’t control nor do I want to try and control what other people think or say as long as they don’t do anything to infringe the natural rights of others.

  11. Three things.

    1) She’s way cute.

    2) YELP sent me nasty grams for my milder comments based on first hand provable facts.

    At the risk of repeating myself…..

    3) The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.

    Eric Schmidt

      1. CV, There is no statute of limitations regarding PC matters. Ask Brendan Eich, Paula Deen, and any building w/ anything confederate Civil War displayed.

    1. See the dates on her published work. When she was an undergraduate, she had a research assistant’s gig and she was listed as the co-author of one of her professor’s papers. I doubt she was a frosh at the time. Given the date on the paper (1997) and the usual publication lags in that era (15 months was about normal), a reasonable wager is that she’s 43 years old. An available woman of 43 could be very unlucky or a quite undervalued asset – or something else you don’t want firsthand experience of.

      1. She gave her life to academia. She got put on (animal house) ‘double-secret probation’.

  12. What I want to know is why anyone would still go to a movie theater, where cell phones, talk, and skid marks on every other seat are a bigger problem than the unwashed feeding the obese? The same question goes for restaurants, which are responsible not just for heart attacks, cancer, IBS, diabetes, low libido, depression, hemorrhoids, road rage, GMO, and Monsanto’s Roundup in urine, never mind even more seat skid marks, but also for ranking the US as the sickest nation on earth where greedy healthcare providers would all be bankrupt were it not for government paying for everyone’s health care. If this is how Chu is spending her free time, she has far worse problems looming on the horizon than being disciplined for posting on Yelp. What sort of life have you when you can find no better way to invest time than to post on Yelp, never mind the overhead of commuting to theaters and restaurants?

      1. Unlike you, I certainly don’t live in a cave, which has made you oblivious to skid marks and food truth.

    1. Vinegart – you must live in San Francisco, with that nudist movement using rapid transit and eating in restaurants. Eeeew.

      Is it restaurants per se that contribute to depression and low libido, or is it GMO ingredients in restaurant food? I was going to take my kid out to ice cream after school today, but I feel a bit nauseous after reading your post! 🙂

      1. No, I don’t live in SF, not even on the Left Coast.

        Health issues are all about bad diet, especially fried foods in cheap, rancid oil, which is so inflammatory, a pack of cigarettes is less harmful than an order of French fries. Women today are still coming down with preventable diseases, such as breast cancer, because they only avoid tobacco, when in fact they should be avoiding all sources of inflammation in their diet and environment. Golfers are especially at risk because golf courses are the new Love Canal, where tons of toxic chemicals are used to maintain window dressing, while clueless affluent distracted by popular culture have no inclination to cash in on PBS or alternative media where they might actually learn something new or think independently.

        Not everyone uses Imodium AD before dining out in a restaurant, explaining the bumper crop of skid marks and whatever other tracks are left on seats these days.

        Go ahead and have ice cream with your kid today, but buy it in a grocery store in a sealed container. That way, you won’t get Hep C, which has exploded in recent years because of all of the illegal aliens that bypass health inspections required of legal immigrants. Even then, you can’t be sure, as we know from W Bush’s favorite Texas ice cream laced with listeria, which poisoned a whole lot of people and even killed some, I think.

        So many people today are taking Imodium AD, without ever knowing why, just witlessly believing it’s the new normal.

        Only a moronic general trying to win a battle with bows and arrows would turn away a machine gun salesman.

        1. Health issues are all about bad diet,

          In the imagination of people obsessed with food.

          1. Yeah right, in Acciaroli, Italy, where one out of every ten residents lives to be at least 100 years old, still healthy and exercising regularly, not even mentioning having sex without Viagra or mechanical means, the population is obsessed with food?

            Other centenarian strongholds, such as Sardinia, Japan, the Ukraine, and many other locales — they are all obsessed with food, too?

            Give us a break!!!

            If anyone is obsessed, it is the more than 100 scientists who have descended upon these centenarians to understand why they live so long while the researchers, themselves, struggle with Western health issues such as heart disease, cancer, IBS, diabetes, low libido, ED, depression, hemorrhoids, premature aging — it goes on and on to more than 2,000 health issues, all entirely preventable if only people would use some common sense, not popular culture that drives harmful fads responsible for the insane health costs, which the healthy are forced to pay for.

            1. with Western health issues such as heart disease, cancer, IBS, diabetes, low libido, ED, depression, hemorrhoids, premature aging — it goes on and on to more than 2,000 health issues, all entirely preventable if only people would use some common sense

              Why not eat yoghurt like the 167 year old Georgians in the Dannon commercials?

  13. The question not being asked is if this level of ‘private’ expression becomes the benchmark from which personal biases and prejudices are expressed then the same argument that established this line will be used to establish the next further out line; and just how biased and prejudiced will a professor or professional be allowed to go? Teachers and other professionals have always been held to a certain degree of neutrality in order for their subject matter to be transferred to the advantage of the recipient. A student goes to a university to learn from an objective source, encouraged to think for themselves and even, hopefully, in an inventive and progressive manner.

    Teachers and professors have always walked a line between personal opinion and the subject matter they teach. This is less a matter of ‘free speech’ that sacred right that is often perverted, and more a manner of professional behavior. Just as ‘free speech’ is and should be protected, it should also be tempered by professional responsibility. It’s not always as simple as the simplistic mind of a lawyer.

    1. Yes. Do you want Caucasian people who serve you specialized Japanese food to be familiar, and knowledgeable about it? There is the Suntory whiskey manufacture whose wiskey is so good. They use North American Douglas For wood.
      Yelp?——– People are going to be like those under Communist regimes. Not good.
      It all depends on the context of white trash…it can be exploitively communicated or lesser so.

  14. Ter Ber, I do feel you are right about the free speech thing. However we all have right to our own opinions.

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