POCATELLO — Former Idaho State University graduate student Jun Yu has added multiple counts of civil rights violations, alleged ethics violations and breach of contract against the university to his existing federal lawsuit.
Yu initially filed suit against ISU in September 2015 for damages after the university refused to grant Yu a doctorate in clinical psychology. The additional counts were added to the complaint in March.
Yu’s lawsuit against ISU now contains 15 individual counts against ISU, its psychology department and staff.
Yu is requesting a jury trial and alleges the actions of the university to withhold his doctorate degree, despite having successfully defending his dissertation, has caused him loss of financial and educational opportunities, as well as pain and humiliation.
A resident of China, Yu entered ISU’s graduate program to obtain his doctorate in clinical psychology back in 2008.
In his final year of the program, while attempting to complete clinical externships with the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center and the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, Yu was dismissed from the graduate program.
Yu then attempted to secure permission to complete an externship at the Shanghai Medical Health Center in China, but that was denied, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Pocatello by Yu’s attorney, Ronaldo A. Coulter of Boise.
Before filing the federal lawsuit in 2015, Yu appealed his denial of an externship in China with the ISU Graduate Council in October 2013. He filed a tort claim against ISU in March 2014. The claim was denied by ISU’s attorneys, Kelly, Talley & Simmons of Boise.
As part of the amended complaint, Yu has secured statements from experts, Dr. Gerald P. Koocher, Ph.D., dean of the College of Science and Health at DePaul University; Dr. Michael Dwyer, psychology professor at Baldwin-Wallace University in Ohio, and Dr. Leslie Wade Zorwick, associate professor of psychology at Hendrix College in Arkansas.
All three psychology professors stated that Yu had been the victim of discrimination and ethics violations by the psychology department at ISU.
“It is clear that Mr. Yu suffered serious harm because of several significant ethically questionable behaviors at the hands of ISU faculty,” Koocher wrote in an affidavit included in the court documents. “These included failure of timely written notice of any inadequacies (if they existed) and failure to prescribe a plan for remediation (if needed).”
Dr. Koocher said his review of the facts led him to believe that ISU’s actions were “arbitrary and capricious” when it came to its handling of the Chinese graduate student. He said the university’s actions were “departures from the accepted academic norms for clinical psychology doctoral programs.”
Zorwick said the actions of ISU’s psychology department smacked of racism.
“It is hard to imagine a situation that more strongly demonstrates all of the hallmarks that are typically present when adverse racism is occurring, which strongly suggests that the behavior of the ISU psychology department was influenced by Mr. Yu’s race and international status,” he said.
Dr. Dwyer said the actions of ISU violated the American Psychological Association’s ethics code, APA accreditation standards and the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers policies.
Dwyer said Yu “was honed by the ISU psychology department’s cultural incompetence.”
In earlier court filings by the university’s legal representatives, ISU has maintained Yu was suspended from the doctoral program because of his communication difficulties and lack of English language skills.
Yu came to ISU after the university waived out-of-state tuition and offered him an annual stipend as a graduate assistant in the psychology department.
University officials said it’s ISU’s policy not to comment on pending litigation, including Yu’s additional complaints against Idaho State.