Yale dean placed on leave for racist Yelp reviews

Yale University has placed one of its deans on leave for the rest of the academic year after discovering a series of racist and offensive comments on her Yelp account.

June Chu was appointed Dean of Pierson College in May of 2016, and an investigation by The Yale Daily News reveals that throughout her tenure she has periodically left reviews of local establishments in which she makes disparaging comments about white people and the poor.

On one occasion, according to screenshots of her reviews, Chu referred to fellow patrons at a local restaurant  as “white trash” and “low class folks,” while in another instance she perplexingly praised a movie theater for its lack of “sketchy crowds,” despite its location in a relatively affluent area.

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The reviews were noticed by Dean of Student Affairs Camille Lizarribar, who brought them to the attention of Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway, but the Daily News reports that screenshots of the provocative posts had been circulating among students for months beforehand.

Chu sent an email to Pierson students Saturday apologizing for those particular comments, which were the only ones of which Holloway had been informed, but the Daily News contends that several other of Chu’s reviews are also deserving of scrutiny.

In one of the many spiteful reviews discovered on her account, Chu rants about having to “remain in line with all the other idiots” at a movie theater, complaining of the “barely educated morons trying to manage snack orders for the obese.”

Holloway nonetheless commended Chu for being “very honest” in her email to the college community, saying he believes that she is “terribly sorry” and has “learned from this,” and noting that he has decided not to ask for her resignation.

“I have learned a lot this semester about the power of words and about the accountability that we owe one another,” Chu wrote in her apology message. “My remarks were wrong. 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.”

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Many Pierson students, however, were far less impressed than Holloway with Chu’s mea culpa, saying they’ve lost respect for her not only because of the offensive nature of her comments, but also because she demonstrated such poor judgment in making them.

Kelsang Dolma, for instance, told the Daily News that the comments “floored” her.

“It is always so refreshing to see an Asian American woman in leadership positions, and many of my female and POC friends were eager to see what she would do for us,” Dolma said. “I look forward to continue having [Chu] as my dean, but this incident has left me and other Piersonites disillusioned.”

One anonymous student argued that it was “inappropriate for someone in her position” to make such “demeaning and offensive” statements, pointing out that “These reviews make it clear how Dean Chu thinks about people who are different from her, and how she feels about New Haven, the city all of us call home for a few years.”

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“I will never be able to look at her in the same way,” another anonymous student concurred. “Dean Chu is trained in human development and psychology so should clearly understand the gravity of her actions, yet the fact that she would put such things on the Internet shows that she really should not be in a position of advising students.”

Tom Conroy, the Director of the Office of Public Affairs & Communications, told Campus Reform that he didn’t have “anything to add to the announcement today by the Pierson Head of College that she was placed on leave.”

Campus Reform reached out to Chu for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AutumnDawnPrice