Idaho State University Ruined My Husband’s Future. Please Help Us Right This Injustice.

Imagine if your past 5 years of hard work were suddenly robbed from you…if your entire career and future were abruptly ruined. That’s what happened to my husband, Jun Yu. (Click here to see a Youtube video from Jun himself.)

Jun has filed a lawsuit against Idaho State University in US Federal Court that could impact all US graduate students and the psychology profession.

Leading experts have concluded (see pages 21-36 in this public document) that Idaho State University violated standards in professional psychology (e.g., American Psychological Association (APA) Ethics and APA Accreditation standards) and academic norms.

As experts noted, what ISU ultimately did to Jun is part of a pattern of unethical, incompetent and discriminatory behavior by the program towards Jun.

Jun worked hard for 5 years as a clinical psychology PhD student at Idaho State University (ISU). He had successfully defended his PhD dissertation. He had a 3.69 GPA, earning satisfactory grades in all required coursework. He was in good standing and not on any form of academic probation.IMG_0737

On May 3, 2013, ISU abruptly dismissed Jun from the clinical psychology PhD program without any warning or remediation, alleging unsatisfactory progress.

However, ISU’s alleged reason was made up, and is directly contradicted by the facts. (An expert reported, “The assigned grades and formal evaluations across semesters are inconsistent with unsatisfactory progress; due process was not followed. In regards to accreditation standards, in all matters relevant to the evaluation of students’ performance, programs must adhere to their institution’s regulations regarding due process and fair treatment of students.”)

The university also denied him the PhD he rightfully earned, as if all the hard work he did for the past 5 years was for nothing.

To add injury to insult, Jun is still making monthly payments on the student loans he took out for his education.

Universities are supposed to facilitate students’ careers, yet ISU wrongfully destroyed Jun’s future and seriously damaged his life.

That’s not right.

Jun’s experts in ethics, cultural competence, and aversive racism have all concluded that ISU’s actions towards him were “a substantial departure from accepted academic norms.” (See pages 25, 31 & 36 in this public document.)

The opinions of Jun’s experts are significant. It is the rare case where a plaintiff presented expert witnesses who belong to faculties to conclude that an academic institution behaved in an arbitrary and capricious manner that was a substantial departure from accepted academic norms. See Regents of University of Michigan v. Ewing, 106 S.Ct. 507, 474 U.S. 214 (U.S.Mich., 1985).

It took Jun 5 years of hard work to earn the degree. But it only took the university an arbitrary decision to deny it. ISU has robbed Jun of his past achievements. They have stolen his dream of becoming a clinical psychologist. They have ruined his career and future.

IMG_1143This never should have happened to Jun. But if ISU isn’t held accountable, this could happen again — to you or someone you know.

Jun and I have been fighting this injustice for over 3 years. Although it is a long, exhausting and expensive battle, we are determined to fight to the end — and we need your help.

The legal fees have been substantial. In the past five months legal bills have ranged from over $12,000 in a month up to over $40,000 in a month. No, that was not a typo — over $40,000 just in one month where the legal team billed 124.70 hours and other expenses associated with litigation were accrued.

We have already had to pay out over $200,000 in legal costs. ISU’s wrongdoing has thrown us into extreme adversity, where ISU has inflicted great financial stress (we are in major debt) as well as emotional duress upon us. Should ISU drag the case, we could easily be forced to pay $200,000 more in legal fees, not including the costs of appeal by either party.

Jun’s lawsuit could have lasting implications for all graduate students in the US and the profession of psychology. We need your help to continue this very important fight.

I have organized a fundraiser at The initial fundraising goal is $100,000. Your donations will be used to help fund all the legal costs associated with the lawsuit. Every donation counts and no amount is too small.

Help us safeguard academic standards and student rights. Donate now at and thank you for your support.

P.S.: I know not everyone can afford to donate. If you can’t, there are other wonderful ways to help support Jun and me, if you would still like to do so, including:

  1. Share the story and fundraiser with people you think would be interested
  2. Write about it on your blog (FYI, should you need them, you can find all the documents on the public record here)
  3. Recommend people or organizations for us to contact for help

Again, any help will be appreciated! Thank you!

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69 Replies to “Idaho State University Ruined My Husband’s Future. Please Help Us Right This Injustice.”

  1. Oh, wow, that is miserable. I know they allege unsatisfactory progress, but do you have any idea what their actual motivation was? That seems crazy to me. I’ll have to have Brilliant Blonde Lawyer Sister take a look.

  2. This type of academic misconduct is always very shocking but certainly not unprecedented, and international graduate students are very vulnerable. You and Jun are two very brave young people to take on an institution of higher learning in the courts, and to have incurred your past and future expenses. I think that universities that abuse and exploit their graduate students in this manner count on the relative poverty of most grad students to protect them from being held accountable. Have you made contact with the ACLU? They might be able to assist you, as it sounds as if racial bias is a significant factor in this case. When I have more time later, I will read up on some of your documents.

    In the short time that I have been following your blog, I have been so impressed by your fine character, and in my highly biased fashion have no doubt of the validity of Jun’ s case. I look forward to making a donation to your fundraiser, but unfortunately it will be small as I am on a fixed income and have dependents.

    On a humorous note, I read what I assume is the title of Jun’s thesis, and think that it must have taken a courageous soul to undertake behavioral family therapy in China, what with the strength of Chinese families and the profound cultural differences between traditional Chinese culture and western style psychological theories. Go Jun!

    You two have some stressful days ahead, so hang loose. Having grown up in academia, it is my guess that if the Psychology Dept. at Jun’ s former university proves to be a financial liability to the school at large, they will be quite ruthless in cutting who ever or what ever is or was responsible for this injustice loose. But it could take awhile in the courts. Thank goodness Jun has such a loyal wife and family to back him up!

    Best wishes

    1. Thank you for being supportive, Susan! I appreciate it!

      Someone had mentioned ACLU to us, but unfortunately if we contact them our lawyer would withdraw from lead counsel. He is a good lawyer and you can imagine there aren’t many good lawyers who know education law in Idaho so I really don’t want to lose him. Hence, we have to come up with other ways to raise funds.

      Donations are one way, but we know there are other possibilities. Your suggestions will be helpful!

  3. I am so sorry to hear about this. I know some good faculty at ISU (less than a day’s drive from my home at WSU), but I admit that I am not familiar with the psychology program there at all. I will do all I can to help.

  4. This is terrible! And complete utter racism on ISU’s part.

    Everything makes sense now after this post. Is this partially the reason why you came back to China?

    I remember a long time ago that your husband was doing a PhD in psychology and always wondered what happened with that.

    (wow, that shows how long I’ve been following your blog and I think it’s been since 2010!)

  5. You should talk to and get involved in with some Asian American activist organizations perhaps they can put pressure on the university.

  6. Wow – they did that and never actually gave a reason? Nothing in a letter, no explanation, just “you’re dismissed” and they thought that was the end of it?

    I didn’t even know that was possible!

    (Even if the “reason” is nonsense and the actual issue is racial discrimination, I’m surprised they didn’t even offer a fig-leaf reason).

  7. Hey I was wondering if you have considered posting Jun’s story onto other major websites and discussion forums?

    A quick google search shows that there are many news outlets that have covered Jun’s story back at the end of 2015. Some of these online articles seem sympathetic to his cause– would emailing them and asking them to post another article about Jun and your donation link work?

    1. I just e-mailed the news outlets — hopefully they will pick it up.

      I wrote up a story for the Huff Post which will be running very soon, and have plans to do more.

      Hadn’t thought about discussion forums — I’ll have to look into finding more. If you have any suggestions, those are always welcome.

  8. That sucks (understatement).
    My first reaction is that there must be university/academic records outlining any disciplinary procedure taken against a student, as there would be due process to be followed should a student encounter difficulties with achieving set academic standards.
    To go from zero contact/problems to a dismissal without any intervening steps sounds wrong on a very basic level.

    A quick search found a ‘POLICIES AND PROCEDURES (ISUPP) STUDENT CONDUCT SYSTEM’ document for Idaho State University.

    It outlines processes and procedures for any disciplinary action to be taken which include an initial warning of what conduct is being called into question.
    According to my experience in my home university as a teacher, care is take to ensure all problems are addressed by due process and students advised of their rights and responsibilities.

    If Idaho State University have failed to follow due process in Jun’s case, then they have certainly left themselves open for lawsuits.

    I can well understand the added stress of having to deal with this from such a distance and the additional burden this places on you.

    I know many of us here would support your struggle for justice as China would benefit enormously from as dedicated an individual as Jun bringing Behavioural therapy to families there.

    1. Thank you Sorrel. Your support is so appreciated. Yes, that’s one of the biggest tragedies…China would benefit enormously from my husband’s work and he’s unable to move forward because of this nightmare.

      Actually, we’re both kind of stuck…even I’ve been held back by this lawsuit. It’s awful all around.

  9. Get the Chinese government to help you. Explain to them that if this can happen to one Chinese national it can also happen to other Chinese nationals. Get John to speak to Chinese officials in China. Do it now. Don’t waste time.

  10. My sympathy to your husband situation. The followings were my experience which might be useful.

    After my college in China, I experienced numerous setbacks and unfair treatments including one similar to your husband situation. After two years in oversea graduate school toward my PhD degree, I was fired by department Chairman against all my graduate mentor and other advisers. I had the best GPA that school could ever had. My mentor told me that Chairman somehow just did not like me. Other graduate students with much inferior record could continue but I was fired due to “lack of progress”. You all know that department Chairman is the `king’ who can fire any one including professors in the department. It is the rule in USA that any new Chairman would fire all professors from prior era and hire all new professors under new Chairman. No matter how brilliant your record is. New ruler has that kind of power to change regime. Quite a lot of my current colleagues change their job due to such change of Chairman. It is unspoken rule in USA. Even new US president would appoint new officials in new administration.

    Thus the boss has the right to terminate any one without reason. Most people just move on without fight (Not worth it, not winnable)

    I understand such rule in USA. I just move on with my life and went to different school to get my PhD. I had many other setbacks with unfair treatment. Most time I choose to move on and make better life instead of fighting. Cost/benefit analysis would help me to choose my battle.

    In the hindsight, this PhD degree really did not do much for my career success. Again do not give too much weight for the degree which is no guarantee of success. I knew quite a few losers with PhD degrees from USA working on low-skill jobs due to their less professional capability.

    On the other hand, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg gave up their Harvard degree and became college `dropout’. They realized that college degree is form of social approval. For capable people, they do not need social approval to be successful. In reality, it is social underclass who cares so much their social approval or popularity.

    My advice is that fight not worth it.

  11. I cannot imagine what this has done to the both of you; I’m so sorry that you’ve had to go through all of this for the past three years. It’s good that you’re able to share the story now and get the support–emotional and financial–to help you get through this.

  12. This seemed to be a clear cut of racism. I don’t see how they can justify not giving you your phd degree. I hope you will a lawsuit against them and sue all the people involved in this. They should be held personally responsible since they basically ruined your life.

  13. Academic discrimination against Asians is nothing new. Schools, under pressure from other more politically influential groups & their associated politicians, have been giving Asians the short end since who knows when.
    Sadly, this discrimination does not only comes from the “right”, but from the “left” as well. Asians have been presented by the media as the enemy of “progressive” groups: Black, Latinos, women (hay Asians are a bunch of male-chauvinistic pigs right?), environmental groups, etc. In fact, I think the “political correctness” bunch has done more damage to Asians in recent years than the Trump/KKK types.

    1. Henry, thank you for the comment.

      Yes, it is true it’s not just a problem of the right. In fact, the people who discriminated against my husband were in general liberal people who openly embrace social justice and diversity — yet this is how they treated a diverse Asian student. I’d also encourage you to read the aversive racism report on Jun’s case on the public record. (Aversive racism is essentially when people who claim not be racists behave in ways that end up being racist regardless.)

      1. Perhaps their liberalism ends with interracial dating or marriage or a foreigner trying to get GC through marriage?

  14. Hi J.E.,

    Since you have now revealed the story of the discrimination, I hoped that you found my legal consultation helpful to your husband’s case, even though it was outside my area of expertise.

    All the best to your lovie hubby.


  15. Hi Jocelyn,

    The link to the fundraiser doesn’t seem to be working, If I click the link I see a notice saying:

    “Something isn’t quite right. The page did not load correctly or in a reasonable time. Sorry for the inconvenience but please try restarting your browser and loading the page again.”

    Let’s hope you can have this fixed soon!

    All the best, luck & strength in this difficult time!


  16. Donated!

    I mentioned your case to my bf and he told me his colleague, who studied in Australia, also sued his school there. Not only him. ALL the Chinese students in the class failed the same subject and they sued together. They won.

    Good luck!! How much money will they have to pay you and Jun for the time you spent on the proceedings, his lost salaries during these years, psychological damages, etc? I hope it is a LOT and they think about it twice next time.

  17. Not being a lawyer or an academic, I don’t have any advice to give.

    I do have a story about discrimination, though. My nephews, American born Chinese, were top students in their school in Millbrae, CA, a part of the country that has more than its share of smart Asians. When my brother-in-law tried to enroll them in the nearby Jesuit high school, the head master admitted that he turned them down for one reason and one reason only: They already had too many Chinese kids at the school. Luckily my nephews didn’t suffer from that case of discrimination. They did fine at the local high school and ended up at Princeton and Harvard.

    I think there was a time (maybe still) when UC Berkeley set a limit to how many Chinese they would accept.

    One of my daughters was thinking about getting a PhD in Psychology. (She became a lawyer instead.) But when she was looking, I noticed that most schools had only one or two openings in the field of Psychology. I wonder if the department was unhappy about filling up a majority of their openings with Asians. I don’t know if that was the case, but if so, it would be similar to the situation at the Jesuit high school and UC Berkeley.

    I’m so sorry you’ve been suffering as a result of this injustice, and I wish you all the luck in the world.

  18. This is going around all the Asian forums on reddit and you’re getting a fair bit of positive feedback.

    As you’re considered to be one us.

  19. Oh wow, I had no idea. I really hope he wins his case! It’s definitely suspicious why they would dismiss him like that. As a grad school student myself, I can completely empathize. I would be crushed if this happened to me. Good luck fighting this legal battle! It must be tough but lots of people are rooting for you!

  20. As a Chinese graduate student myself, I can sympathize. I am lucky to be receiving mostly fair evaluations on paper, although I always wonder what they’re thinking in private.

    I have to say, it is sad that this even comes into consideration. I have had to choose my schools and professors based on whether the professors of interest had supervised another Asian student previously, not just based on their research, solely because I wanted to avoid any possibilities of this scenario happening.

    Wish you the best.

  21. Welcome to the Donald Trump vision of America. And this will happen again in places such as Idaho and southern states such as Alabama!

  22. I’m so sorry for the suffering this has caused Jun and yourself; getting my graduate degree was a huge part of my life, and I can’t imagine it being taken away so arbitrarily after the amount of time and effort that goes into any graduate degree. You’re both in my thoughts, and I’ll be donating what I can as well. Good luck in this fight and please keep us updated.

    (I’ve been reading your blog for years but rarely comment; just wanted to let you know you have my support.)

  23. Reposted. Usually I follow your blog silently, but this post made me feel really emotional. My husband is a PhD student (Chinese student abroad) and I know how hard it can be. I hope Jun will win the case and will get his degree!

  24. I have no idea about the merits of this particular case. But it wouldn’t surprise me if there is discrimination involved. Asians face more discrimination in academia than other groups (and not just involving affirmative action as mentioned above) but in cases of implicit racism. Take this study which showed that people with Chinese and Indian last names were far more likely to be ignored for inquiries to professors in emails despite having otherwise identical emails.

    In many environments from work to housing to schools, Asians face as much or more racism than other groups yet receive essentially no media attention. White liberals love championing causes for certain groups which confer on them social “brownie points” yet would not hesitate discriminating or tolerating discrimination against Asians.

  25. Jocelyn, have you contact Chinese embassy about your case? How about Chinese media such as CCTV? I remember you did a program with them once!

    Try contact them! Everyone watch CCTV in China, so it is going to have big impact if they decide to following your case!

  26. Also, have you heard of 陈光标? He is one of China’s well know philanthropist! And he likes to show off his ideas! He was doing cherity work in America with Bill Gates! If you can get his attention then he might help your case and donate fund to you!

    I think you really should contact as many Chinese media as possible, it will help your case!

  27. I have a contact in CCTV’s Facebook team. I can pass this on to see if they are interested in your story. My soon-to-be wife (next month!) is Chinese and I couldn’t imagine this happening to her after working so hard and attending top universities up to this point. I know that there are a lot of predispositions that she faces as being Chinese, and that you and we face as being in inter-cultural relationships with Chinese spouses.



    PS I have a question if you don’t mind my asking: I notice you speak fluent Chinese (I’m assuming 普通话), does your husband have a preference on if you use English with him (to help his English language environment)? My fiancee is probably the best-spoken (accent and all) Chinese person you would ever meet, you wouldn’t in a million years guess she is native Chinese, and she doesn’t really find it necessary for me to learn Chinese (and hardly encourages it other than for it to help me while in China and for my future career, but she dreads the thought of having to use it with me). This doesn’t necessarily bother me, I’m just curious how other couples handle it, or if it’s unique for us as she is in the field of conference interpreting.

    I’m sorry to bring such a trivial question while you’re focused on such a difficult problem. I’m going to try to see if UnionPay works for the website. If not, I hope my Facebook share and messaged to CCTV helps in some way.

    1. Thank you for your help, HB!

      If you’d like to discuss your question, you can e-mail me at jocelyn(at) That way we won’t be putting off-topic content in the discussion.

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