Have you dealt with harassment and sabotage? - Research - The GradCafe Forums
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Have you dealt with harassment and sabotage?


gschoolbarbie

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Have any of you ever been sabotaged before? What did you do about it? My lab-mates will do things like swap out the chemicals on my desk for other ones. It doesn't happen all the time, but ~once every 3 months or so, and is incredible annoying--let alone unsafe.

Along the same ones, has anyone here (especially female students) had to deal with harassment before? How did you deal with it? I'd like to report, but it's hard to have "hard" evidence without walking around with a tape-recorder.

My advisor is a jerk and refuses to do anything about it. Not only that, He even went as far to (a) accuse me of making up the stories (B) saying it was my own fault I was in the situation I was in.

Thanks ahead of time for any input!!

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No suggestions as to the harassment, but on the other issue:

When you say swapping chemicals, do you mean filling a bottle that has one label on it with another chemical without changing the label? If so, that's extremely dangerous- and I'd personally go to the department head.

If you mean borrowing/taking your chemicals, and leaving other bottles on your desk... Meh, that happens in every lab, all the time. People borrow something, leave other stuff lying around... And it's not very dangerous, since you should read the label of everything before you use it.

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Are these your sample jars, or pre-packaged reagent jars (ie, from Aldrich/some other supplier)?

I really can't believe any adviser would be ok with this. Your departmental office of Health and Human Safety certainly won't.... I can't even imagine how many OSHA rules it violates.

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  • 2 weeks later...

We blogged about this last week over on our blog page. Recently a case against a postdoc at Michigan who was sabotaging a grad student in his lab was settled. They had to pay over eight grand in damages and are on six months probation. Retards like this are wasting time (yours, theirs, PI's) and resources (read government money), if you really want to get this solve. Report this to your health and safety folks, they won't play when it comes to stuff like swapping reagents. This will also usually get the DGS involved and then you can bring up any harassment issues as well. This will at least force your boss's hand one way or another. Grad school is already hard enough, you don't need this crap.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Along the same ones, has anyone here (especially female students) had to deal with harassment before? How did you deal with it? I'd like to report, but it's hard to have "hard" evidence without walking around with a tape-recorder.

Document. Even if you don't have "hard" evidence, write down the date, time, and exactly what happened. If you have your own computer (I wouldn't use a public computer for this), maybe record each one in a separate file so that the computer records the date the file was created, and nobody can accuse you of deciding on the spot to make up a long backstory. Also document any attempts you made to resolve the situation that didn't work.

If the harasser is stupid enough to put anything in writing, you're in luck. Save the emails/text messages/whatever.

There's a bit about how to deal with sexual harassment as a grad student in the grad advice book Getting What You Came For.

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Yipes!! This is why I don't want to work in a chemistry lab.

Also if you can keep the switched bottles, do so... don't use your bare hands. Chances are, if your labmates didn't use gloves, their fingerprints were all over it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

As far as the harassment goes, I'm so sorry that's happened to you in grad school. And it's absolutely not acceptable that your advisor has not taken you seriously. I mean, it's happened to you, it's not just a "concern," it's a legal issue.

I second a lot of the suggestions here already: document, document, document. Also, do consider recording an instance, especially if your higher-ups are trying to ignore it. If you have evidence and present it to the DGS, they should absolutely do something for you. If they don't, write an article about it in your newspaper. Make sure everyone knows that these bastards aren't doing anything to help you.

And the next time they harrass you, don't be afraid to fight back. Tell them they are the slime balls they are, and that you wont' tolerate their treatment (it isn't your fault or responsibility, but sometimes taking a firm stand and saying something to the persons face will make them back off, or just make you feel better!)

My sympathies, they're fucking assholes. I hope this gets resolved for you!

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  • 3 weeks later...

As far as the harassment goes, I'm so sorry that's happened to you in grad school. And it's absolutely not acceptable that your advisor has not taken you seriously. I mean, it's happened to you, it's not just a "concern," it's a legal issue.

I second a lot of the suggestions here already: document, document, document. Also, do consider recording an instance, especially if your higher-ups are trying to ignore it. If you have evidence and present it to the DGS, they should absolutely do something for you. If they don't, write an article about it in your newspaper. Make sure everyone knows that these bastards aren't doing anything to help you.

And the next time they harrass you, don't be afraid to fight back. Tell them they are the slime balls they are, and that you wont' tolerate their treatment (it isn't your fault or responsibility, but sometimes taking a firm stand and saying something to the persons face will make them back off, or just make you feel better!)

My sympathies, they're fucking assholes. I hope this gets resolved for you!

I ditto this.

And never forget that punks who use sex as power in this way are your basic schoolyard bullies. If it is at all in your ability to do so, embarrass the hell out of them. The next time one of them says something tell him to whip out a ruler because you have size guidelines and he looks questionable. I mean just say something impeccably ruthless as casually as you please and walk off. Write down a grab bag of one liners before hand to keep in your pocket, metaphorically speaking.

In addition to documenting and refusing to be cowed do not be afraid to be the greasy wheel. I despise that role, too, but I'm learning that there are times when, if people refuse to respect you, then having them fear you works just the same.

I am so sorry this is happening. People are stupid, stupid, vapid, stupid vats of stupid. Does your campus have a womens' center? I'd make friends there or with any other allies across disciplines to help you cope.

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