We recently discussed the controversy surrounding postings by June Chu, dean of the school’s Pierson College, on Yelp. She was called classist for such comments as “This establishment is definitely not authentic by any stretch of any imagination and perfect for those low class folks who believe this is a real night out.” Chu has now been fired by the university in a move that makes many academics feel uncomfortable over the monitoring of their statements outside of school in social media.
Chu was put on leave after it was discovered that she had written reviews on Yelp deemed offensive. 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.”
There remains great uncertainty for professors on how the limitations that they face outside of their positions in participating in public commentary or social media. The fact that “classist” comments can be also grounds for termination is chilling for many teachers.
What do you think?