Yale Dean Placed on Leave for Offensive Online Comments

Official will not participate in commencement activities.


This Sept. 9, 2016 photo shows Harkness Tower on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut

This Sept. 9, 2016 photo shows Harkness Tower on the campus of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut PHOTO: BETH HARPAZ/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Earlier this week, this column noted the offensive online posts of June Chu, Dean of Yale University’s Pierson College. This morning, Pierson Head Stephen Davis sent the following email to students and faculty:


Dear Pierson community,

I am writing to let you know that Dean Chu has been placed on leave and will not be participating in Commencement activities or working with students through the end of this academic year. In the meantime, Elaine Lincoln will be coordinating with Dean Mark Schenker in the Yale College Dean’s Office to make sure that your academic needs are properly addressed. 

I am very aware that when I last wrote to you on Saturday morning, it was to ask you to partner with me in envisioning a way forward—to carve out space for grace—in the aftermath of Dean Chu’s email to the college apologizing for two Yelp reviews in which she had used inappropriate and unacceptable language pertaining to matters of class and race. I did so even though I found the views she expressed to be deeply harmful to our community fabric. I did so because I was convinced that her apology was genuine, because I believed that those posts were not representative of her and of the good work I had seen Dean Chu do in her capacity as dean, and because I still had hope for the possibility of envisioning a path toward healing and reconciliation.

Today I am grieving because I no longer can envision such a way forward. When I wrote to you on Saturday morning, it was with the understanding—and under assurance from Dean Chu, an assurance given to me and to others—that she had posted only two troubling reviews on social media. On Saturday evening, I found out that she was in fact responsible for multiple reprehensible posts, enough to represent a more widespread pattern. 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.

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 simply to reaffirm what I wrote to you on Saturday: what holds us together is our collective effort to ensure that every single person in our midst is valued beyond measure. 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.

This collective effort takes hard work. We work and strive every day to fulfill our basic social imperative: to honor and embrace those who are different from us. It also takes trust. We seek to forgive, but there are also consequences to our actions, and discerning when trust has been broken is one of the most difficult and painful kinds of labor.


And so, I write you today with a different kind of request: to join me in the equally important labor of rebuilding the trust that holds us together. Jenny and I are available to you 24/7, and we remain committed to making Pierson a place where this is possible.


Dr. D

This column will be updated later today.

One response to Yale Dean Placed on Leave for Offensive Online Comments

  1. Stephen E. Hansen May 18th, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    What a terrible human being! But how suitable for Yale. I’m surprised she wasn’t promoted for these reviews! Hell, she could be president of my alma mater, Stanford!


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