January 15, 2009


Following the increased press coverage of my year long fight with the University of Exeter, I have decided to create this website for three reasons. Firstly, to generate greater awareness of my case and the issues that have not yet been reported by the media. Secondly, to raise funds to bring my case to County Court where I hope to finally receive justice. Thirdly, to highlight the plight of postgraduate students who are either bullied, neglected or subject to mounting pressure to accept teaching duties traditionally performed by senior academic staff.

Read more at: http://www.student4justice.com/


Anonymous said...

Well done for your bravery and courage in speaking out.

In solidarity

Aphra Behn

Anonymous said...

Courage? By going public with his case, he scuttled his chances of getting a degree. No supervisor would want to have him as a student and the probability of him obtaining an academic position is near zero.

It should be remembered that discretion is the better part of valour. The kid blew it, plain and simple. Maybe he can get a job with Walmart....

El Cid

Anonymous said...

El Cid - don't be such a jerk! The whole point of this blog is to bring cases such as this to the attention of the masses...well done to him for speaking out!

Anonymous said...

I cab guess where El Cid is coming from, even though I do not agree with him, I can see his point.

Hard to have discretion and not 'hit the roof' if you have been victimised in a systematic manner.

And, if we all keep silent, then who fights the fight?

This guy decided (good or bad) to take them on. Well, the best we can do from now on is to help him, irrespective if there were other ways to go about it at the time, something tat we don't really know for let us not forget that we are all different.

Anonymous said...

The impression I got from reading the articles was that he wanted to bring the issue to public attention but also expected to eventually finish his degree. That's academic suicide.

Thirty years ago, I knew of a similar case. The student in question was working on his Ph. D. His supervisor published data that the student collected but without his knowledge or permission nor was he given credit for obtaining it.

The chap started filing complaints, taking his case to the publisher(s) in question. Eventually the matter came to the attention of the senior administration which, apparently, made a decision on the matter.

I don't recall the details, but it brought about a settlement to the issue. The student eventually finished his degree, though.

Was he justified in filing complaints? Certainly. Was he smart by doing so? Probably not. He sullied his own reputation and called into question his supervisor's--a bad mistake. It was doubtful if he ever earned a living with his degree as it's unlikely that he ever got a reference from the supervisor. It's also possible that, by going about things like he did, his actions preceded him, which may have made him unemployable.

Sometimes it's best to keep quiet and walk away from a bad situation. Wait until one get the degree and then try to sort things out. By doing that, at least one has what one set out to get.

That kid in the UK didn't do that and it's doubtful if he's going to have a bright shining future now. Who'd want to hire a trouble-maker? What university would want to take on a student with such a blemish on his academic record? Since that would mean that since he might not finish his degree, his CV would have a major gap in it and a hiring manager might get the impression that he would be an applicant who leaves major tasks incomplete.

Is it worth such a high cost?

El Cid

Anonymous said...

He is brave and courageous because he brought the matter to public attention - yes he may also be naive... maybe not... don't underestimate him...

...maybe there will be someone who will give him the money to go to court... maybe there will be an out of court settlement...maybe the facts will be brought to public attention...

...you took your route... I am taking mine...he is taking his...

Let's offer him all the support in the world.

Aphra Behn

Anonymous said...

I've been in and out of the dole queue over the years, and not by choice, either. (What's happening now with people being laid off and tossed out into the street nowadays is quite familiar to me. I went through that during the 1980s.)

One thing I heard during those times was that one would be best advised not to sue one's former employers. If one applied for a job with a firm, there's bound to be a few inquiries made about that person's background. Former employers will be high on the list of contacts and, despite what one hears about not saying anything about former employees for fear of being sued, word about what one did while working there will certainly get out. It will definitely have an influence on whether that person gets the job.

In other words, one should keep one's reputation as free of blemishes as possible, regardless of what happened there. Sue a former employer, and that outfit will be seen as the victim, not the former employee.

The young gentleman in question didn't do that. Whoever gave him legal advice about suing the university was either equally as behind the eight ball or thought "Helloooooo, sucker!" when he presented his case to him or her. Someone's lawyer is definitely going to make a lot of money out of this case.

He may well have a legitimate beef. I certainly had several grievances when I was a grad student, but I knew better than to file formal complaints while I was without the degree I was studying for. Any action he might have taken would have best been left until after convocation as then he would have had what he set out to obtain.

By pursuing litigation, he put all that into jeopardy. What he should have done was to take his lumps, get his degree, and then file a complaint if he so chose. At least then he would have had something tangible to show for his miseries.

He'll get an education out of all this, but quite possibly not the one he set out to get. He'll certainly find out how the real world works and how one plays the game. He'll also find out what Oliver Wendell Holmes meant when he said to an exasperated young lawyer: "This is a court of law, young man, not a court of justice."

It would be nice if he wins, but people have long memories about such things, regardless of the outcome. Whatever happens is going to stay with him for many years go come.

Is what he did worth it?

El Cid

Anonymous said...

Misguided? Maybe. But I can assure you that there are penalties for shutting up and putting up too. I had the choice between shutting up and getting screwed (i.e. losing access to data that I had collected for a project) or complaining and exacerbating the bullying. I had no faith that my university would support me if I complained even though it was privately conveyed to me by senior people that they thought I had been treated appallingly. Either way I thought my career was pretty much stuffed (I got rescued, purely by chance).

It's catch 22 - you are damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Ditto being 'the bright one'. If you don't show your wares you don't stand out and you won't get a job. If you do you run the risk of threatening the bullies and provoking their wrath... and I have learned that academia is full of fragile, insecure and easily threatened people who rapidly turn into Dr Hyde at the sight of a bright underling.

SFJ's case really resonated with me. Injustice hurts doesn't it? SFJ I really hope that you are getting help and support.

I have a small circle of academic friends who have been ill-treated, bullied or simply burnt by the experience and we mentor younger or newer academics and graduate students because we don't want what happened to us to happen to them. I consider that it is the least we can do.

We also do our best to talk to 'newbies' not only about how academia has a culture that frequently encourages and sanctions bullying, but also about how it encourages self-doubt, insecurity and fragility and that these feelings are common even in more senior academics. We hope to change the culture in incremental ways and make the personal political - or at least assure others that they are not alone.

I don't know if what SFJ did was right or wrong in terms of strategy, but I'd very much like to offer him the best of luck and all the strength in the world.

Anonymous said...

I found your email really helpful. These situations are not easy. I would have given anything for someone to have spoken to me about the academic culture in HE... I would then have been more prepared for what happened... and continues to happen in my university.

In solidarity

Aphra Behn