A student was forced to wash her dean’s dirty underwear in exchange for her scholarship, according to court proceedings in New York.
The former student of the University of St. John’s, testified on Monday, that she cooked, cleaned and washed the clothes of her former dean because she feared losing her scholarship.
Peiyi Gan, a Chinese national, had no idea the service of 20-hours a week at school, which is required under the scholarship program of Asian Studies, meant she had to serve as the housekeeper of Dr. Cecilia Chang, and endure verbal abuse by the son of Chang.
"Working for the dean is my duty," Gan said in a statement that was recorded on September 21, because she had to return to China.
"If I do not do my work, she will end the scholarship," Gan said.
Her work included mopping floors in the kitchen and bath inside the luxury home in Jamaica Estates, buying groceries, take out the trash, washing clothes, washing the underwear of Chang and her son, and cook for the Dean and her son Steven.
Chang and her son often criticized Gan’s cooking.
“Sometimes she said: really delicious, sometimes, not tasty,” Gan said. “Steven looked at me and said, This is not delicious, do not cook anything anymore.”
Steven Chang sometimes called Gan stupid, she said.
Cecilia Chang, former dean of the Asian Studies University, is responsible for hand picking students, whom she could bribe with scholarships in order to force them to work as her personal servants.
Gan said she had received an associate degree in English and tourism at a university in China, but her test score was not high enough to continue for a four-year degree.
Gan’s uncle, who lived in Brooklyn, knew Chang personally and suggested she apply for a scholarship to St. John’s.
She began working for Chang in the summer of 2004 seven days a week at first. Another scholarship student showed her around the house and explained her tasks.
Gan, 31, continued to work until 2007, when she obtained a master's degree.
Chang even provided a scholarship for Gan’s boyfriend, who did not speak Chinese. He was commissioned to do the paperwork in the office of Asian Studies.
Under cross-examination, defense attorney Stephen Mahler said living in the Chang house was not as bad, as the former student had her own room and bathroom. Chang was not even at home that often since she traveled abroad frequently.
"Were you happy with the food you had in the house?" Mahler said. "The food was good," Gan said outside.