A dean at a residential college within Yale University has found herself embroiled in a controversy after her scathing Yelp reviews of local businesses in New Haven, Connecticut were exposed.
According to Yale Daily News, Pierson College Dean June Y. Chu published strongly-worded reviews of the establishments on her personal Yelp account that many Yale students have found offensive and distasteful.
Although not-so-flattering reviews of businesses are common on Yelp, many Yale students have expressed outrage over Chu’s comments, especially for someone in her position and academic background.
In a post, she referred to a local restaurant’s customers as “white trash” and “low class folks.” She also praised a movie house for not having “sketchy crowds” despite being in New Haven.
While her account is now disabled, screenshots of her reviews have been circulating among Pierson students for the last couple of months.
An unnamed student interviewed by the paper revealed Chu had sent out a college-wide email on Jan. 30, announcing that she had become a “Yelp Elite,” which means that the website recognized the dean for her active participation. This prompted the student and his friends to search for Chu’s Yelp account out of curiosity.
Discussing the reviews with his friends in Pierson and other residential colleges, he noted that most of them recognized that Chu’s use of “demeaning and offensive” language was inappropriate.
“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,” the student was quoted as saying.
According to Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway, he only learned about the issue a few days ago after being informed by Dean of Student Affairs Camille Lizarribar.
He said that school administrators, including Chu, have decided that Chu should email Pierson students to address the incident.
On Saturday, Chu, emailed the residential college community to apologize:
“I have learned a lot this semester about the power of words and about the accountability that we owe one another. 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.”
Holloway would later comment that the email was “very honest.”
“I’ve not asked for her resignation, and neither has Head Davis,” Holloway was quoted as saying. “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.’”
The report noted that while most of the controversial reviews were published after Chu had been appointed dean in June 2016, she also posted similarly offensive tirades the year before.
A review of Entertainment Cinemas in Seymour back in 2015 had Chu criticizing “barely educated morons trying to manage snack orders for the obese”, expressing annoyance that she had to “remain in line with all the other idiots.”
Student reactions to the issue ranged from disappointment to disgust:
“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,” a student remarked. “I look forward to continue having [Chu] as my dean, but this incident has left me and other Piersonites disillusioned.”
“I will never be able to look at her in the same way. She needs to formally apologize in person to the college,” the student said. “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.”