The Yale Daily News reported recently that a professor at the university’s law school, Amy Chua, had been disciplined for allegedly inviting students to dinner parties at her house in violation of a 2019 agreement with the dean. Current and former students of Chua’s sent dozens of emails to the administration to protest the decision. Some high-profile supporters condemned her treatment: One deemed it “sinister,” while others suggested it might be racist and sexist. Chua herself called the whole thing “surreal,” denied any wrongdoing, and demanded an investigation.
At first it does seem surreal, if not absurd. How could such a seemingly trivial accusation lead to such public consternation? Was the law school, as some of her allies believed, targeting Chua because of her politics or her persona? Had her personnel file been leaked by the dean in order to discredit her, as Chua seemed to imply? What exactly was going on at the nation’s top-ranked law school?
Chua is probably Yale law’s most famous professor. She’s the author of the 2011 best seller Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, a memoir of her attempt to raise her two daughters in a strict, traditional fashion. In 2018, Chua wrote an op-ed in support of the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, praising him as a “mentor for young lawyers, particularly women.” (That op-ed was published before Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault when the two were in high school — allegations that he denied.) Stories also emerged about how Chua had supposedly told female students who wanted to clerk for Kavanaugh that they should dress “model-like” in order to win his favor. Chua has called those claims “100% false.”