Amy Chua, former professor of law at Duke Law School and the current John M. Duff, Jr. professor of law at Yale Law School, has been facing allegations that she invited students and possibly federal judges to dinner parties at her home this past winter.
In March, several law students reported that Chua had hosted parties with food and alcohol at her house that winter, presenting screenshotted text threads as evidence. While this wouldn’t normally be grounds for disciplinary action, students and faculty had been asked not to host or attend maskless indoor gatherings because of the pandemic.
The situation was further complicated by the fact that Chua, who is widely known for her controversial memoir “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” pledged in 2019 to avoid drinking or socializing with students. Her promise followed allegations of excessive drinking and offensive comments.
However, Chua expressed on her personal Twitter account June 9 that she believed that the terms of this agreement had ended in September 2020, when she was asked by administrators to teach a small group course. These courses, which consist of cohorts of 15 first-year students, are a hallmark of the Yale Law curriculum and “practically [require] socializing with students,” Chua wrote in a tweet.
Several days after students accused Chua of hosting maskless gatherings during the pandemic, her name was removed from the list of professors who were slated to lead small groups during the 2021-22 academic year.
Chua and the students allegedly involved in her dinner parties deny the claims; instead, they say that students were invited to Chua’s home in groups of two to three, mainly in order to seek her advice.
The New York Times reported that Chua admitted to telling students to keep quiet about the dinner parties.
“I did tell them all, ‘Don’t mention this,’ because everything I do, I get in trouble for,” Chua said, according to The Times.
However, Chua maintains that she did not break any rules.
“There are many things in the past that I can say, ‘Oh, I probably spoke too recklessly,’ or, ‘Maybe it was interpreted this way.’ This most recent thing—there is zero truth to it,” she said in a recent interview with The Times.
The day after the Yale Daily News published an account of the accusations made against Chua and the ensuing disciplinary actions taken against her by the administration, Chua wrote a letter that she circulated to the Yale Law school faculty and posted on her Twitter account, along with a caption that denied the claims made against her.
“I did not violate any agreement, nor have I been hosting wild parties during COVID. On the contrary, what I HAVE done is comforted a small handful of students who reached out to me in moments of crisis...,” Chua wrote in the tweet.
Following the news story and the circulation of Chua’s letter, a number of students and alumni released letters either defending or criticizing the professor.
A collection of letters supporting Chua, posted on her personal website, include details about her tireless advocacy for students of color, the kindness and empathy she displays as a mentor and her skill as an educator. On the other hand, a letter posted on Twitter attacked Chua for being dishonest about the nature of the events she hosted and attempting to intimidate students so that they wouldn’t take action against her.
Yale Law School administration has not taken further action surrounding the situation, with the exception of several general statements about faculty misconduct and COVID-19 policies. The story has been picked up by national news outlets—including The Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education and Fox News—and debates surrounding the situation have continued.
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Anna Zolotor is a Trinity senior and recruitment chair for The Chronicle's 118th volume. She was previously news editor for Volume 117.