Yale University has placed Pierson College Dean June Chu on leave after after insensitive Yelp reviews mocking service people as "morons" and referring to restaurant patrons as "white trash" were discovered by students.
Chu will not participate in commencement activities or work with students through the end of the academic year, according to an email Pierson Head of College Stephen Davis sent to students Thursday morning.
In the email Davis said he was "grieving" and could no longer "envision a way forward" with Chu in an administrative position at the residential college.
Chu's reviews were discovered after she sent a letter to students in the residential college announcing she had become "Yelp Elite," according to the Yale Daily News. Students then searched the review-sharing site and found messages Chu posted over the past few years.
Chu, who has been dean of Pierson since 2016, has since deleted her account, but the YDN took screenshots of some of the reviews. Some of the most egregious read:
"To put it quite simply, if you are white trash, this is the perfect night for you!" - Koto Japanese Restaurant review
"I guess if you were a white person who has no clue what mocha is, this would be fine for you." - The Mochi Store review
"I loved the small theater feel without sketch crowds (despite it being in new haven)." - Criterion Cinemas review
"The front desk person this am, Bethany, was the rudest person and just full of attitude - seriously I don’t care if you would 'lose your job' (I am sure McDonalds would hire you)." - Retro Fitness review
"So what they have is barely educated morons trying to manage snack orders for the obese." - Entertainment Cinemas review
On Saturday, Davis acknowledged the damaging language in the reviews, but asked students to partner together and and strengthen their bonds. At the time no disciplinary action was to take place against Chu.
But in the email sent to students Thursday, Davis said he was under the false assumption that there were only two insensitive reviews, when in fact there were more.
"On Saturday evening, I found out that she was in fact responsible for multiple reprehensible posts, enough to represent a more widespread pattern," he wrote. "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," he continued.
Davis' email went on to say stereotyping of others is not tolerable in educators entrusted to oversee students.
"Let me be clear. No one, especially those in trusted positions of educating young people, should denigrate or stereotype others, and that extends to any form of discrimination based on class, race, religion, age, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Yale unequivocally values respect for all...This is true not only in Pierson and across the university, but most emphatically throughout the city of New Haven and in every locale beyond."
Yale University has considerable wealth with $25.4 billion in endowment funds. It has educated some of the richest people in the world, and in 2015, Blackstone founder Stephen Schwarzman donated $150 million to the school.
Yet, its home of New Haven has the fastest-growing income inequality in the US, according to a 2016 report from the Brookings Institution. And Chu's insinuations about the New Haven population — for example not having "sketch crowds (despite it being in New Haven)" — have struck a nerve.
Chu became dean of Pierson in 2016. There has been no indication from Yale administrators if Chu's leave is temporary or permanent.
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