Issue about continuing PhD and sue university

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After arguing their mistakes and telling him I will contact conflict center or dean's office, his attitude was changed. And he told me that he is going to find possible ways to resolve this issue.

This suggests to me that your best move at the moment is to sit tight and see what the resolution turns out to be. This person is about to charge the bureaucracy on your behalf; let him do it!

Threatening a lawsuit is, for the many reasons listed in the comments to the OP, the thing to do if you are absolutely set on ruining your life as well as your academic career. Don't.

This is legitimately frustrating and you are legitimately angry about it. It's hard to think strategically in such a situation, yet that is precisely what you aren't doing at the moment -- but need to.

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K Doe
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K Doe

Updated on September 29, 2022

Comments

  • K Doe
    K Doe about 1 year

    I started my CS PhD from 2013 and changed my advisor last semester. My new advisor is in the electrical department and has an affiliation with CS for advising CS PhD student.

    Although I passed my WPE exam and "pass with reservation" in oral exam from my previous lab, the CS department told us to retake the WPE and Oral exam with new committee member if I wanted to switch my advisor.

    I discussed this issue with my new advisor. Then my new advisor discussed this issue with the DGS(director of graduate study) in CS department and the DGS told him that he and I can assign new committee members and retake the WPE/Oral exam. By the way, I got an email from CS department that I could retake WPE/Oral exam in the condition with new advisor and committee members.

    After we received the email, my new advisor and I agreed to retake the exam and moved forward to research together, based on what they said meaning DGS and graduate program coordinator.

    However, yesterday the Graduate school contacted my new advisor that we can't reassign new committee members due to the university policy. My advisor then talked with CS department but they said they can't resolve this issue because of the university policy. The DGS that my advisor talked previously has been changed to new DGS.

    I went to meet with the new DGS this afternoon hoping to solve my issue, but all he told me at the beginning of the meeting was to transfer to EE department or graduate with CS master degree. Obviously, there was a mistake between CS and graduate school, but nobody wants to take in charge of this mistake. After arguing their mistakes and telling him I will contact conflict center or dean's office, his attitude was changed. And he told me that he is going to find possible ways to resolve this issue.

    I was so upset and thought this was unfair. I discussed this issue with my new advisor and he thinks that this is absolutely unfair to a student and they ignore your time in graduate school and should not tell me getting out of the graduate program. How can they suggest me to get a CS master degree and leave?

    I am feeling awfully bad and really want to sue university because even if I stay here, I have to stay with the DGS and program coordinator.

    • Austin Henley
      Austin Henley about 8 years
      That does sound like a terrible situation, but what is your question?
    • K Doe
      K Doe about 8 years
      My question is how I can sue the university? Do you think it is possible?
    • Pete L. Clark
      Pete L. Clark about 8 years
      K Doe: Asking for legal advice and not specifying your country is silly. In the US, a student suing a university for an academic issue is extremely unlikely to work. A university has no legal obligation to keep a student. Here is another question: what would you sue for? Money? (Why would the university owe you money?) The right to stay in the PhD program? Then -- assuming somehow that you are successful -- you would be in a program in which your presence is undesired by the local powers but legally mandated. This could be much more unpleasant than starting fresh in a new program.
    • K Doe
      K Doe about 8 years
      I don't know about the university's legal obligation to keep the student. Do you think keeping student is related to unfair issue? As I mentioned, obviously this is their mistakes. If the law can't protect the student and someone keep silent like you, they will do same thing. University doesn't owe me money but I invest the time which is most important. Anyways, you are right. if I am successful, I cannot stay here. But at least I can give them any type of warning. And I will speak out my experience through the internet. But if I can sue them at the cheap price, I would be happy.
    • Pete L. Clark
      Pete L. Clark about 8 years
      " But if I can sue them at the cheap price, I would be happy." You don't seem to be thinking very clearly. Losing a lawsuit against a university is going to have entirely negative consequences: on your finances, your time, your reputation and your future career. You were told by certain departmental officials that something could be done, and it turns out they made a mistake. The person who made the mistake no longer has the position (hmm....) but the new person in that position "is going to find possible ways to resolve this issue". So they are trying to fix the problem: why aren't you?
    • tonysdg
      tonysdg about 8 years
      No lawsuit against an organization such as a university will ever be "cheap". Smaller universities will have at least 2 or 3 lawyers minimum as "general counsel". Larger universities may have dozens of lawyers. Expect to spend tens of thousands of dollars - if not far, far higher - just to bring the case to the courts.
    • Pete L. Clark
      Pete L. Clark about 8 years
      Instead, you are going on the internet and asking how to do the least helpful thing possible. The idea that you are somehow legally entitled to continue as a PhD student in your program is a horrible one (unless you are in some country where the university is directly run by the government and the courts actually rule on university procedures). Are you not aware that students who do not make satisfactory progress cannot continue in the program? And that a "pass with reservation" means that your progress was formally recognized as being borderline?
    • Pete L. Clark
      Pete L. Clark about 8 years
      It is very likely that they absolutely have the right to kick you out of the program. Depending on the nuances of the situation, you may be right that doing so would not be kind or fair. So you should be appealing to the relevant parties' sense of kindness and fairness, not challenging them on their rights or spitefully trying to drag them through the mud. Most people who are kicked out of universities have negative things to say about the university that kicked them out. It is very, very rare that these negative sentiments actually damage the university.
    • Alexandros
      Alexandros about 8 years
      Was your new advisor appointed officially or you just started working with him? Can you do a PhD in the CS department without an advisor (even in papers only) from this department. In many departments I know, this is not possible. In this sense, transferring to the EE department, seems like the obvious choice. Why do you oppose to that?
    • K Doe
      K Doe about 8 years
      Alexandros: My new advisor can advise CS phd students. And I already switched my major from EE to CS. Even if I want, I can't.
    • K Doe
      K Doe about 8 years
      Pete: I really want to drag them into mud now. I know I can't stay more that's why I can do this because they have to pay something for their mistakes. Somebody should take the responsibility of this issue. In graduate school, highest education, it seems like they want to hide something by kicking out me. Why do students accept this weird thing? I am studying in US.
    • K Doe
      K Doe about 8 years
      Tonysdg: Thank you for your answer. But how can I meet lawyer?
    • Alexandros
      Alexandros about 8 years
      @KDoe 1) Dragging them to the mud is unlikely to happen 2) There are probably things you are not telling them. Why are they eager to kick you out? There must be a reason. 3) Why did you switch advisors and why did not it work out with the previous advisor? 4) You did not do well in your exams and there is no excuse than that, other than sloppiness. Without this, there would be no excuse to let you go. 5) Where do you get your funding from? (if you do). Are you TA? Did you perform well there? Are you paid from a grant? Have you delivered the necessary work for this grant and so-on.
    • K Doe
      K Doe about 8 years
      Alexandros: why are you asking this? Those are not the points. In previous lab, at that time, 5 guys are left from that lab at the same time. That was an extreme case of creless professor. Haha ..during oral exam, he was late 20 mins and kept watching his laptop. No defending at all and I got voting papers after exam. Two members gave me pass but two memebers gave me pass with reservation thise were my advisor and the director of previous lab. Do you think if you are not good in Ra or ta, they can tell you getting out of this school? Do you think you are so amazing in ra or ta?
    • K Doe
      K Doe about 8 years
      What I did was with previous advisor was to take the oral exam based on my submitted paper with agreement of previous advisor. He didn't advise at all for research ..this was like general facts but I believed he is understanding my work at least. But that was just my hope. And another worst thing was that he kept saying like controlling you by money in the meeting. I think this is the reality of university.
    • Alexandros
      Alexandros about 8 years
      @KDoe As you can see from my profile, I have helped many people like you before in this community. Why are you being impolite (Referring to your comment: "Do you think you are so amazing in ra or ta?) to people trying to help you? In Academia and any other workplace, you must collaborate with other people to succeed. And learning to collaborate and listening to what others say, is a skill more crucial than papers and exams. You should definitely work on that, before seeking OUR free advice for YOUR problem.
    • K Doe
      K Doe about 8 years
      Alexandros: I am sorry about that. But I think your qeustion seems like a different issue.
    • aparente001
      aparente001 about 8 years
      Basic rule of advocacy: sue if you need to, but never threaten to sue. Don't even hint at it. Your advocacy will be much less effective if you mention anything relating to suits or lawyers. What you can do, however, is calmly cite laws, regulations and policies.
  • K Doe
    K Doe about 8 years
    Thank you for your answer but he told me that I need to submit the petition. It doesn't make sense at all. Why do I need to make it? In addition, I need to get the support letters from DGS and coordinator who want to hide something. Also the DGS wants to control the contents of petition so far. I don't know why they care this a lot like this. My advisor told me it is not going to work in graduate school. I don't know what to do.
  • Patricia Shanahan
    Patricia Shanahan about 8 years
    @KDoe The new DGS presumably knows more than you do about the relevant procedures and how best to get results. What do you have to lose by following their advice to the letter?
  • K Doe
    K Doe about 8 years
    Patricia: thank you. It's so stressful. My concern is that at first, DGS and program coordinator told me like kicking out from the program. I am wondering what they will do for me. Its obvious that they are not working for students.