A Yale University dean has resigned after disparaging remarks she made on the review site Yelp, including calling people “white trash,” “low class folks” and “barely educated morons,” were uncovered.
June Chu served as dean of Pierson College, one of Yale’s residential colleges, from May 2016 until this month. She was initially placed on leave but then chose to leave the position voluntarily.
Chu’s Yelp account has since been deleted, but Yale Daily News posted screenshots of some of the reviews in May.
“To put it quite simply: if you are white trash, this is the perfect night out for you!” Chu wrote in a review of a Japanese restaurant. She called it ideal “for those low class folks who believe this is a real night out.”
In what was meant to be a positive review of a movie theater Chu describes her shock that seats are not filled with “sketchy crowds.”
“I loved the small theater feel without sketchy crowds (despite it being in new haven) and the seats were roomy and comfortable,” the review reads, in part.
The theater in question is located in New Haven, Conn., as is Yale University. Residents of New Haven are 35.4 percent Black, 31.8 percent white, 27.4 percent Hispanic, 4.6 percent Asian, 3.9 percent two races and less than 1 percent American Indian as well as Native Hawaiian. Chu does not elaborate on what people constitute “sketchy crowds.”
Yale’s undergraduate student body, which consists of about 5,400 students, is 47 percent white, 17 percent Asian, 11 percent Hispanic, 10 percent non-resident alien, 7 percent Black, 6 percent two or more races, 2 percent unknown and 1 percent American Indian/Alaska Native, according to the school’s College Scorecard.
According to Yale Daily News, the university was initially only aware of the two aforementioned inappropriate reviews, which Chu referred to in an apology email she sent to the residential college community.
The university did not ask her to step down, Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway told Yale Daily News: “She’s terribly sorry, and I think she’s doing exactly the right thing by saying ‘I’ve learned from this, I want to stand by all of you and I hope that you’ll stand by me as well.’”
“But other reviews obtained by the News featured provocative comments that were not referenced in Saturday’s email,” the publication reported. “Most of the posts were published after June 2016, after Chu had been appointed dean.”
“I guess if you were a white person who has no clue what mochi is, this would be fine for you,” she said in a review of a mochi store.
In a review of a second movie theater Chu slams the staff as being “barely educated morons”:
“Good lord talk about idiocy and incompetence! Why the hell in this day and age would there be no separate line just for tickets? So what they have is barely educated morons trying to manage snack orders for the obese and also try to add $7 plus $7.”
Entertainment Cinemas is located in Seymour, Conn., which has a population that is 87.8 percent white, 6.4 percent Hispanic, 2.6 percent Black, 2.2 percent Asian, 1.4 percent two races and less than one percent American Indian.
Chu indicates in other posts that she has no regard even for her own race. The former dean identifies herself as Chinese or Chinese American in several of her reviews and suggests that this gives her the authority to make some of the remarks that she does.
“Please note: I am Chinese American and typically HATE having Chinese when I’m out,” she said in a review of a Chinese restaurant, which she called “not your typical greasy trashy Chinese joint.”
When reviewing a burrito restaurant she described a conversation she had with an employee, at which time she complained her rice was undercooked. “I am Asian, I know rice,” she reportedly told the worker.
Several days after the Yale Daily News made these reviews public, the school put Chu on leave.
In her initial apology email Chu said the remarks she made “demean the values to which I hold myself and which I offer as a member of this community.”
But for some students, the damage was already done.
“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,” one student, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Yale Daily News when the screenshots first went public.
Another unidentified student at the time suggested that the then-dean formally apologize to the university.
“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,” the student told the publication.
Chu earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and both her M.A. and Ph.D. in social psychology, according to a press release announcing her hiring last year.
Yale made headlines in February when it announced it would rename its Calhoun College due to its namesake having ties to slave ownership and white supremacy. The decision came following student activism, including a widely circulated petition. The petition referenced events on campus they believe demonstrated racial insensitivity, including when members of a fraternity were said to have turned women of color away from a Halloween party.