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  1. Hi Everybody, I'll just shoot straight. This morning, I just got my first, concentrated dose of academic politics. Here's what happened: Last semester, I took a class with a professor who has some serious strengths (organization, useful and relevant assignments, etc), and some serious weaknesses (approachability is the main one here). The class was overall good. When it was time for us to do our student evaluations, I filled out mine fairly and honestly, highlighting both the strengths and weaknesses of this particular instructor, knowing that their career could hang in the balance. I did this because I'm a christian first, and then a grad student next (actually, I'm a fiance, then a good friend, then a grad student... I know, I should be kicked out for that lack of priority alone, huh). But I gave this instructor "5's" where she deserved them, and "2's or 1's" where she deserved them. Here's the kicker though, this professor IS MY ADVISOR (and a collective gasp fills the room... I know, dramatic, huh?). I don't feel bad at all for giving an honest evaluation of a person whose opinion I care about (even to the point that I was near suicidal when she called me a waste of money once), and it was only in a constructive manner. Okay, now fast forward to today. The moment I get to my office, she asks me to her office, closes the door, and then grills me on what I put down. She stated that there was evidence that someone had changed the evaluations, and she needed to know if there was any area that I marked her highly on. She didn't get mad at me for my feedback or anything, but wanted to know if I marked her high on anything, so she could use it as evidence to say that her evals were doctored. THIS WAS THREE MONTHS AGO, so I don't remember what I gave her. But I honestly did tell her the areas that I would give her high marks, and I even asserted that. But I feel in an extremely awkward position. I'm not a big fan of that whole "team player" mentality if it means I have to compromise my ethical and moral beliefs. I will be honest and objective in all situations, and if any employer has a problem with that, well then I don't want to work with them anyway. That goes for this situation too. I'd rather throw this away than my principles and ethics, so I don't feel bad about what I am doing. With that said, I feel extremely awkward and a little scared. With only nine months to go until I graduate, this is the worst time for something like this to happen (well I guess it's better than right before I defend, but still). I guess I want to know what I should do, and how screwed am I really. The truth is that I'm not willing to lie or cheat in this situation. Even if it means poverty, I'd rather be at peace with my soul than rich and troubled.
  2. I will try my best to condense a long story. There will be no cliff notes FYI to give you fair warning. I am in a doctoral program in a class with 9 students. Last year, we ran into a professor who wreaked havoc on us. The course was very difficult, not due to content, but to unfair treatment. She had clear favorites as evidenced by identical answers on exams graded completely different. After one particular exam where the majority of the class had failing grades, she demanded that each of those people who made below 60% stay after and 'discuss' a plan of action with her, blatantly violating grade confidentiality in the process. Luckily, I was not one of these people, but that's where it all went downhill. A closed door meeting was organized with the director the program, who subsequently spoke to the professor. She snidely alluded to it during our next session and began to grade even more erratically, refused to respond to emails, and openly chided our class to her colleagues. I survived the course and had the privilege of drawing her as my preceptor for my next clinical rotation. It was a nightmare experience that I suffered through with my mouth shut. I simply wanted to survive and not do anything brash to damage my standing in the program. The one memory I will address regarding this clinical experience was when she and her colleague (who was also an adjunct professor with a potential personality disorder and despise of our class) clicked open their evaluations that students fill out on professors at midterm and at the end of the semester. These evaluations are strictly confidential. Well, the two psychos proceeded to read off the evaluations to each other, taking turns guessing which student wrote which. Right while I was sitting in the room with them. They later mentioned specific eval comments to their other classes, against guessing who wrote one. Fast foreword a year later and we have her for another class. Like clockwork, the entire class with the exception of one made D's/F's. The test consisted of writing out what obscure acronyms stood for, who the author of a quote was on the 3rd paragraph of your textbook on pg. 87, and vague scenarios asking for detailed responses. She is 10-15 minutes late to each class (it's a night class), looks largely disinterested, and reads straight out of the book during lecture. Test grades were returned two weeks after they taken. I have started to record lectures for evidence. It is inherently obvious to me that she is carrying out ill-will and revenge against my cohort. Another closed door meeting recently ocurred with the director, who appeared concerned and willing to help. A follow-up meeting was scheduled a week later after a period of evaluation. The result was a frustrating display of apathy and dishonesty. The director claimed that grade grievances took too long and the process would be futile. He claimed that no actions could be taken against the professor because we did not rate her low enough on evals (claiming there was no rating lower than a 4 out of a 1-5 scale) and that nobody left any comments. I'm glad I wasn't there, because I likely would have went ballistic. Recall my story about seeing the very evals he alluded to. I saw them with my own two eyes. He's a bold-faced liar. I would have been fine with this had I our director just openly stated that he had no intention of doing anything about the situation rather than going the spineless coward route and lie. I have been less bothered by this entire situation for the past year than any of my classmates until this point. My tolerance for having legitimate concerns swept under the rug with dishonesty is next to nothing. On top of that, he claimed to have never even met the professor. Are you kidding me? You're the head of the damn program. I'm literally fuming at this point. Our program is routinely associated with the cellar dwellars in US rankings. I can certainly see why now. We have the option to request a hearing, which will ultimately be denied after the director and his buddies have clearly demonstrated that they would avoid a mess than stand up for their students. I'm wondering what the next step is. I'm savvy enough with social media to the point where I could spread my story around (after graduating of course). While I pride myself in standing on principle, alienating myself in an already small profession may not be the best route. I have considering going to our national governing body and presenting the facts in hopes that accreditation for the program will be removed (as it should). There are countless head-scratcher incidents through the past 3 years that would take a full 2 days to detail. At this point, I've had just about enough of it. What are your thoughts? Or suggested plan of action?
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