#1: The Court granted Jun Yu’s motion to amend his present complaint; the newly amended complaint now has 18 counts against ISU
Last year, after doing research and reading the expert reports, our lawyers determined Jun’s case was much stronger than the initial complaint (and its 3 counts) reflected. However, since the Court’s set deadline for amending complaints had passed, in April 2016 we filed a motion to amend the complaint (meaning, we were asking the Court’s permission to amend), which ISU opposed.
This Court decision, allowing us to amend the complaint, strengthens Jun’s case. The newly amended complaint now has 18 counts of wrongdoing against the university — six times what we initially had — and truly reflects the egregious harm ISU inflicted upon Jun.
It also means we’ve just added some very significant counts to the case.
One of the most important counts is number four, the denial of substantive due process rights. This count was supported by the reports from Jun’s leading experts in ethics, cultural competence, and aversive racism, who have all concluded that ISU’s actions towards him were “a substantial departure from accepted academic norms.” Why does this matter? Because the Supreme Court ruled (See Regents of University of Michigan v. Ewing) that universities cannot substantially depart from accepted academic norms in their judgments regarding students.
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.
Besides the denial of substantive due process, we’ve also added in a number of breach of contract counts. A notable one is count number seven, Failure to Adhere to the Code of Ethics of the American Psychological Association (APA) (as per Idaho licensing law). This count comes from the conclusions of our leading experts in psychology, including one of the most renowned authorities on ethics in psychology, who determined ISU violated a number of APA Ethical standards in their treatment towards Jun Yu. (You can read the full reports detailing APA Ethics violations here and here). That’s how serious this is; leaders in the psychology field are standing up to condemn the behavior of ISU.
The Court finds the records requested by Plaintiff are relevant to his claim of discrimination based on national origin and his allegations at this stage in the proceedings are sufficient to warrant production of these materials. Plaintiff’s need for these records sufficiently outweigh the students’ privacy interest…
There’s still another pending motion before the Court, a motion for summary judgment that was filed by ISU back in September 2016. Before the case even gets assigned a trial date, we need to overcome summary judgment. It’s one of the most critical hurdles for a civil suit.
We already believed we could overcome summary judgment last year. We feel more confident after these decisions from the Court — particularly the Court’s decision granting us the leave to file an amended complaint, adding many critical counts to the lawsuit.
There’s still much to do before a trial would happen, including sorting through seven years worth of student records from ISU (which could end up costing a lot of time and money). That’s why your support, in whatever form you can provide, is so important.
When I look back, I think to myself, what a miracle. When we needed help, people stood up and surrounded us to say, “I care.”
Of course, the lawsuit is still not over — which means our money challenges aren’t over either. But, knowing you are behind us, we strongly believe that justice will prevail and we will make it through.
Thank you so much for being there. You’ve already given us the best Christmas present we ever could have hoped for.
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But there’s a human side to a US lawsuit. It’s inevitable that a huge US Federal Court case will ultimately affect you in countless ways, changing your life.
For a long time, I’ve struggled with how to exactly put this into words. But then I started thinking about a lot of the different experiences I’ve had in this past year related to the case. I started by writing a few things, and before I knew it I had a whole list.
So if you’ve ever wondered what it means to support your husband’s discrimination lawsuit, here’s a sampling of what it’s like:
It means buying a suit jacket and black dress at H&M at the last minute because your lawyer insisted you MUST be there at Jun’s deposition to support him. And even though the idea of watching your husband be deposed makes you anxious – and even though you toss and turn the entire night before – you show up the morning of his deposition dressed like this, and pull on your bravest smile.
It means driving, not flying, together across the US to save on the precious $$$ that this lawsuit is costing you. And as it turns out, you end up doing it during a summer when the nation’s midsection is getting barbecued under a scorching heatwave.
It also means staying at campgrounds along the way to cut costs as well. In one case, you arrive late and then get caught in a downpour that forces you to spend the night in your car.
It means spending an inordinate amount of time and energy on the challenge of collecting funds to pay your monthly legal bills. And even starting a crowdfunding campaign. It also means being shocked that your last monthly bill topped $40,000.
It means re-reading reports from all the Very Important Experts in the psychology field who support your husband. They’re a reminder that you and your husband have great leaders behind you…leaders who believe this is an important case.
It means that, even though you’re a lapsed Catholic with diverse spiritual beliefs that include Buddhist and Taoist ideas and you still haven’t been to mass in years, you start your mornings praying to St. Jude.
It means living a super-frugal existence in an apartment smaller than any hotel room you’ve ever stayed in, because you need to save money for the lawsuit and its associated costs.
It means learning more about the legal system than you ever expected to know, and impressing family and friends at parties with your understanding of motions, depositions and declarations.
It means being amazed by the fact that your husband’s case is getting stronger every day – and remembering how far you’ve come from when the injustice first took place.
It means feeling emotional about the injustice from time to time, and finding solace in a good hug.
It means discovering who your real friends and supporters are, and feeling your spirits soar whenever someone says to you, “I’m glad you’re fighting this.”
It means in the darkest moments, finding ways to remind yourself that you did it all for #JusticeForJun. Like when your friend Sally told you to never forget in your heart what this battle is all about.
It means learning to see the silver lining to everything that happened to you and Jun – and believing that this will lead the both of you to something better than you ever imagined.
When Jun and I used to live in the US, we always heard the stories from Chinese students and friends. How years would pass before they ever traveled to China to see friends and family. It was too difficult for them to return – because of the cost of travel, the hassle of renewing their visa, or both.
It was unimaginable to me.
At the time, the longest I had ever been away from my family in the US was a little over a year. Even that absence had plagued me with a deep homesickness – so great that I once sobbed quietly in a bathroom stall at work over missing the US.
I never thought the same thing would happen to Jun and me. Or that I would learn to manage the distance over not one or two, but nearly three years.
That’s what a good friend wrote to me a few months ago after I confided in her. I had mentioned the enormous stress in my life. The bouts of sadness. The loneliness I was feeling.
Talking to a counselor or psychologist is the kind of advice I used to give all the time. For most of my life, I was a big believer in the power of counselors and psychologists to guide us through life’s challenges. After all, it was a psychologist in a university counseling center who helped me cope with the loss of my mother at the tender age of 17.
But when I read my friend’s suggestion to talk to a counselor, anger coursed through my veins. The last person I would ever talk to would be a psychologist. Just thinking of psychologists made me want to scream.
That’s because I’ve lost my trust in psychologists and the psychology profession, thanks to Idaho State University.
People have been asking, where is the discrimination in Jun Yu’s case? The answer is, modern discrimination and racism usually lurk behind more obvious wrongdoing.
While ISU committed acts of aversive racism against Jun (see aversive racism report), at the same time, they egregiously violated professional standards in how they dealt with Jun.
Why does it matter that ISU violated professional standards? The answer is, because universities cannot substantially deviate from accepted academic norms and professional standards are academic norms. (See Regents of University of Michigan v. Ewing, 106 S.Ct. 507, 513, 474 U.S. 214, 224-25 (U.S.Mich.,1985). See also Emerson v. North Idaho College, 2006 WL 3253585, at *8 (D.Idaho, 2006).)
Let’s look at how ISU blatantly violated professional standards in psychology.
One of the strongest aspects of Jun’s case is the fact that ISU blatantly violated the professional standards in psychology.
The Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct from the American Psychological Association (aka the APA Ethics Code) is a set of standards that every licensed psychologist in the US is bound to follow. Every psychology board in the US has adopted the APA Ethics Code as part of their laws that govern the work of every licensed psychologist. Furthermore, the ISU clinical psychology PhD program has been accredited by APA since 2001. Accreditation standards also demand that department faculty follow APA Ethics.
The APA Ethics Code includes a standard (7.06) about supervising students:
7.06 Assessing Student and Supervisee Performance
(a) In academic and supervisory relationships, psychologists establish a timely and specific process for providing feedback to students and supervisees. Information regarding the process is provided to the student at the beginning of supervision.
(b) Psychologists evaluate students and supervisees on the basis of their actual performance on relevant and established program requirements.
When discussing serious criticisms with supervisees, one should invariably offer these in writing, followed or accompanied by a dialogue about expected changes with a remedial plan…. [Students are] certainly entitled to feedback and would be justified in asserting the inappropriateness of saying nothing about shortcomings until the final evaluation. Such behavior, if true, afforded [the student] no opportunity to attempt remediation of his defects and denied him due process.
During Yu’s fourth year in the program, John Landers was his supervisor for the fall 2011 PSYC 7748 Clinical Externship class at the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.
The externship was not a required course, but Yu was recommended by the CTC to the externship to gain experience “critical for students to compete for national internships,” according to the complaint.
According to the contract, the externship was planned to last for one year.
But just two months into the externship, Landers dismissed Yu from the externship, alleging that Yu was “unable to grasp the communication nuances.” This was despite Yu meeting the English proficiency standards for admission at the university.
Yu received no prior, specific feedback regarding alleged areas of concern or remediation. [Emphasis added] Landers wrote that “this site could not afford to engage in remediation efforts” and he acknowledged that “daily feedback may have been too indirect.”
I would also add to this that Jun received his first and only evaluation from this supervisor 10 days after the dismissal. Yes, that’s right. He was dismissed first, and then 10 days later the supervisor did the evaluation.
All of this — no prior, specific feedback regarding alleged areas of concern, no remediation, doing an evaluation 10 days after a dismissal — is apparently a flagrant violation of APA Ethics Code 7.06, as described by the authors of that ethics textbook.
If the allegations made by the ISU faculty are to be believed, they clearly failed to perform appropriate timely assessments; provide timely feedback; propose and assist with necessary remediation; or provide timely monitoring of off-site placements….As previously noted, there were no written documentation of substantive guidance, remedial feedback, or corrective action. (Docket 22-1 p. 24 of 44.)
In other words, they didn’t ensure proper supervision in accordance with 7.06.
You’re probably now scratching your head and asking yourself, how in the world could ISU do this to Jun? How could they completely disregard ethics in how Jun was treated in a supervisory situation? It’s a question Jun and I have asked ourselves again and again.
There are many ways in which Dr. Leslie Speer violated the minimal due process that was available to Mr. Yu (Plaintiff Document 000053-000059) – ranging from not offering a second assessment until after his dismissal to not working with him to develop a remediation plan in the face of performance concerns to not assembling the group of supervisors in Ohio to discuss his performance before dismissal – and the ISU faculty used the decision of Dr. Speer to justify dismissing Mr. Yu from the program. The ISU faculty’s decision to privilege the opinion and decision-making of a supervisor who was violating accepted standards means that the decision was, at least in part, based on a violation of accepted professional norms. (Docket 24-1 p. 28 of 33.)
So, once again you have a supervisor who 1) dismissed Jun first and then did an evaluation; and 2) didn’t do any remediation.
A number of ethical and accreditation standards have been violated in Mr. Yu’s case. These include ethical violations by faculty members related to following through with program descriptions (Code: 7.02), flaws in assessing and responding to student performance (Code: 7.06), and avoiding harm (Code: 3.04). (Docket 22-1 p. 23 of 44)
Ethical violations by ISU faculty and clinical supervisors, as guided by the American Psychological Association’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (American Psychological Association, 2010), include boundaries of competence in training international students who speak English as a second language (APA Ethics Code Standard: 2.01), avoiding harm (APA Ethics Code Standard: 3.04), and assessing student and supervisee performance (APA Ethics Code Standard: 7.06). (Docket 22-1 p. 34 of 44.)
It’s very disturbing that an APA Accredited Program would apparently violate the very standards they are supposed to model and train students in.
But more importantly, it shows a substantial departure from accepted academic norms. (See Regents of University of Michigan v. Ewing, 106 S.Ct. 507, 513, 474 U.S. 214, 224-25 (U.S.Mich.,1985). See also Emerson v. North Idaho College, 2006 WL 3253585, at *8 (D.Idaho, 2006).)
“Taken as a whole, the actions of the faculty at ISU in dismissing Mr. Yu as they did constitute, in my opinion, substantial arbitrary and capricious and departures from accepted academic norms in clinical psychology doctoral programs.” (Ethics expert, Docket 22-1, page 25)
“On the basis of these facts, it is my opinion that the behavior of the members of the Idaho State University psychology department was arbitrary and capricious and deviated from accepted professional norms in psychology.” (Aversive racism expert, Docket 22-1, page 31)
“In my opinion, the actions of the faculty at ISU in dismissing Mr. Yu as they did, was a substantial departure from accepted academic norms.” (Cultural competency expert, Docket 22-1, page 36)
So, how is all this discriminatory?
Look at it this way. ISU had an obligation and responsibility to adhere to APA Ethics in their treatment towards Jun — particularly as a clinical psychology program responsible for educating students in ethical and professional behavior. Yet, they flagrantly violated ethics, the most important professional standards for psychologists.
Anyone who knows APA Ethics would find the violations I mentioned above abhorrent, particularly for people in psychology (often referred to as “the helping profession”). This is a field that supposedly cares about safeguarding the rights of others. Yet, as Jun’s ethics expert wrote, “the program…did not adequately respect [Jun’s] rights.” (Docket 22-1 p. 24 of 44.)
It’s as if ISU believed, when it came to their behavior with Jun Yu, professional standards and ethics no longer apply.
Ask yourself, why would an APA-Accredited program so blatantly violate these standards? And why did the wrongdoing happen to the one student in the program who was Asian, from China, spoke English as a second language?
P.S.: Based on feedback in the comments, I’ve since edited the article to make things clearer to readers, particularly noting the importance of Regents of University of Michigan v. Ewing in Jun’s case.
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