NoirFemme

Fall 2017 applicants

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1 hour ago, Sigaba said:

 

You're blowing off guidance from Omid Safi for an entirely different field (a point made clear in mb's post, twice) after you've done how much coursework as a graduate student in any field?

1

Let's step back from the appeal to authority via Omid Safi. The advice above may have been directed to a particular individual's background/educational experience (minion banana) and thereby it might not be suitable to apply it broadly to all history graduate students or it could have been taken out of context/misunderstood altogether.

What is important is: to ASK YOUR OWN ADVISOR about career goals or other people in your department/university who know you, who know the market and CONSIDER THEIR ADVICE more seriously than strangers on the internet (me included). My two cents is (1) you need to choose your dissertation topic wisely, to be marketable and of interests to people with different backgrounds ("why does this topic matter to people who AREN"T interested in my niche specialty"?) AND (2) You'll (most likely) get burnt out on what you write about, so don't think that it will necessarily be "easier" if you're in love with the project (it might be, but it might be a short-lived romance as well). I work on modern stuff, but that doesn't mean that I ONLY learn about modern stuff...you should be cognizant and conversant of other topics (and perhaps even the historiography!) of other fields. Whether or not that's useful for your dissertation is up for you and your advisor to decide. You don't want to lose out on a job because you were too myopic or too general in your preparation--the difficulty (like all things in grad school) is finding the balance. 

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1 hour ago, nevermind said:

Let's step back from the appeal to authority via Omid Safi. The advice above may have been directed to a particular individual's background/educational experience (minion banana) and thereby it might not be suitable to apply it broadly to all history graduate students or it could have been taken out of context/misunderstood altogether.

What is important is: to ASK YOUR OWN ADVISOR about career goals or other people in your department/university who know you, who know the market and CONSIDER THEIR ADVICE more seriously than strangers on the internet (me included). My two cents is (1) you need to choose your dissertation topic wisely, to be marketable and of interests to people with different backgrounds ("why does this topic matter to people who AREN"T interested in my niche specialty"?) AND (2) You'll (most likely) get burnt out on what you write about, so don't think that it will necessarily be "easier" if you're in love with the project (it might be, but it might be a short-lived romance as well). I work on modern stuff, but that doesn't mean that I ONLY learn about modern stuff...you should be cognizant and conversant of other topics (and perhaps even the historiography!) of other fields. Whether or not that's useful for your dissertation is up for you and your advisor to decide. You don't want to lose out on a job because you were too myopic or too general in your preparation--the difficulty (like all things in grad school) is finding the balance. 

^^^^^ All of the above, for sure. I would never presume to know better than an established expert in the field. I also deliberately avoided bringing specific names into my response. I (perhaps too eagerly) assumed that anyone reading my post would know to take my comments as those of a stranger on the internet, and therefore inevitably worth far less than those of an advisor. As a medievalist I always want to encourage that people know the early history of their topic, because there's a lot to be gained by looking further back (whatever that means in the field in questions)--but I also realize this is not always going to be the most helpful direction to follow, depending on your desired outcome.

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8 hours ago, nevermind said:

Let's step back from the appeal to authority via Omid Safi. The advice above may have been directed to a particular individual's background/educational experience (minion banana) and thereby it might not be suitable to apply it broadly to all history graduate students or it could have been taken out of context/misunderstood altogether.

What is important is: to ASK YOUR OWN ADVISOR about career goals or other people in your department/university who know you, who know the market and CONSIDER THEIR ADVICE more seriously than strangers on the internet (me included). My two cents is (1) you need to choose your dissertation topic wisely, to be marketable and of interests to people with different backgrounds ("why does this topic matter to people who AREN"T interested in my niche specialty"?) AND (2) You'll (most likely) get burnt out on what you write about, so don't think that it will necessarily be "easier" if you're in love with the project (it might be, but it might be a short-lived romance as well). I work on modern stuff, but that doesn't mean that I ONLY learn about modern stuff...you should be cognizant and conversant of other topics (and perhaps even the historiography!) of other fields. Whether or not that's useful for your dissertation is up for you and your advisor to decide. You don't want to lose out on a job because you were too myopic or too general in your preparation--the difficulty (like all things in grad school) is finding the balance. 

The objective of a dissertation is to create new knowledge that advances an existing historiographical debate, not to be "marketable."  Framing a dissertation on a relatively obscure topic in a manner that historians may find it interesting is being professional. If the distinction is unclear, I recommend that you dust off a copy of Higham's History: Professional Scholarship in America and remind yourself of the price professional academic history has paid for making itself more "marketable" to the Social Science Research Council.

(And not all advisors have the best interest of their graduate students in mind. Or so I've heard.)

6 hours ago, LadyPole said:

^^^^^ All of the above, for sure. I would never presume to know better than an established expert in the field. I also deliberately avoided bringing specific names into my response. I (perhaps too eagerly) assumed that anyone reading my post would know to take my comments as those of a stranger on the internet, and therefore inevitably worth far less than those of an advisor. As a medievalist I always want to encourage that people know the early history of their topic, because there's a lot to be gained by looking further back (whatever that means in the field in questions)--but I also realize this is not always going to be the most helpful direction to follow, depending on your desired outcome.

I think this response is a dodge. Now,  you're saying you're a "stranger on the internet." Previously, you described yourself as a historian. Historians often use words like "amusing" and "entertaining" to dismiss an argument without engaging it. "Hilarious" is the throw of an intellectual gauntlet.

Yet, rather than using your imagination as a historian to understand Safi's point and to pick up what he's putting down, you have twice privileged your perspective as a medievalist (despite Said's guidance), while simultaneously alleging that you're not.

Have you considered the possibility that Safi was referring to the politicization of Islamic studies by polemicists such as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer who believe that Westerners can predict the behavior of 2.18 billion people simply by reading a translation of the Koran?

Might it be possible that he understands that this Westernized view is used to legitimize a teleological interpretation of Islamic civilization so that every interaction between Muslims and non Muslims is part of a master plan to establish a global caliphate? Perhaps Safi and his peers understand that this approach to Islamic studies has growing currency in the American government, especially in U.S. special operations forces, especially in the American army? 

Or maybe they have grasped that this broad brush simplistic approach to Islamic studies helped the current president get elected? 

Perhaps he's suggesting that scholars who demonstrate a higher level of intellectual rigor are more likely to earn the respect of established academics and to be offered jobs?

Instead of considering these possibilities, you have doubled down. You find "hilarious" and "amusing" a clear and dire warning about a field of scholarly inquiry being subverted so that it can embolden the intellectual rot, the blind hate, the willful ignorance, the religious intolerance, the rabid us versus them nationalism, and theracism rampaging across the landscape of American and European politics.

 

 

 

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9 hours ago, Sigaba said:

 

The objective of a dissertation is to create new knowledge that advances an existing historiographical debate, not to be "marketable."  Framing a dissertation on a relatively obscure topic in a manner that historians may find it interesting is being professional. If the distinction is unclear, I recommend that you dust off a copy of Higham's History: Professional Scholarship in America and remind yourself of the price professional academic history has paid for making itself more "marketable" to the Social Science Research Council.

(And not all advisors have the best interest of their graduate students in mind. Or so I've heard.)

 

 

Now I see the condescension of the other poster was referring to. I didn't say that marketability was the ONLY factor to consider writing a dissertation on, but it is one of many factors that need to be considered. You don't want to propose an outmoded topic just like you don't want to propose a faddish topic just to cash in on the "trend". People should be working with their advisors on this (and I said "or other people in your university or departments who know you" precisely because I acknowledge that not everybody has a great relationship with their advisor). 

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@Sigaba You're making a lot of assumptions about me and my background that are incorrect. I'm not interested in entering an argument with you. If you don't want to take my word as to my intentions and meaning, don't. But I'm done here.

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5 minutes ago, NoirFemme said:

Seriously. This is going to be what future cycles take from the 2017 thread? Maybe some of the veterans need to chill if they can't interact with new people with some grace.

Honestly, I agree with this. As someone who has had there question highjacked and turned into a flaming debate, I feel like I do not want to ask or contribute anymore. A few pages back on this thread someone had her whole life come out and multiple posters constantly disparaged her. It has become more of a toxic environment rather than a useful forum for grad school.

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22 minutes ago, MikeTheFronterizo said:

Honestly, I agree with this. As someone who has had there question highjacked and turned into a flaming debate, I feel like I do not want to ask or contribute anymore. A few pages back on this thread someone had her whole life come out and multiple posters constantly disparaged her. It has become more of a toxic environment rather than a useful forum for grad school.

HI! I believe you might referring to my train wreck of a side thread. I've been intermittently looking at the threads since then. I initially came here for advise, and seeing the grandstanding, pontificating, and out and out disrespect that has been hurled at some people here has made me almost completely disengage. And that's terrible too, because I've had much to say about what I have seen over the last few pages and I'm honestly too afraid of the vitriol that I might get for it. Some posters have challenged others to print out their posts and tape them to the door of their advisors' office to see what they would think of their students' online personas. I would say this: would anyone here who seems to take pleasure in tearing other people down say those things to the faces of people who will potentially be their colleagues someday?

Edited by SarahBethSortino

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On 3/16/2017 at 1:25 PM, russianblue said:

If you don't mind me asking, how did you receive notification?

-

Also, thanks @Gotya64 and @luz.colorada for the positive vibes. I'm not feeling very optimistic, but discussing everything with my cohort as just shown me that this whole application process is full of surprises!

I got an e-mail with the result

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17 hours ago, Sigaba said:

I think this response is a dodge. Now,  you're saying you're a "stranger on the internet." Previously, you described yourself as a historian. Historians often use words like "amusing" and "entertaining" to dismiss an argument without engaging it. "Hilarious" is the throw of an intellectual gauntlet.

Yet, rather than using your imagination as a historian to understand Safi's point and to pick up what he's putting down, you have twice privileged your perspective as a medievalist (despite Said's guidance), while simultaneously alleging that you're not.

Have you considered the possibility that Safi was referring to the politicization of Islamic studies by polemicists such as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer who believe that Westerners can predict the behavior of 2.18 billion people simply by reading a translation of the Koran?

Might it be possible that he understands that this Westernized view is used to legitimize a teleological interpretation of Islamic civilization so that every interaction between Muslims and non Muslims is part of a master plan to establish a global caliphate? Perhaps Safi and his peers understand that this approach to Islamic studies has growing currency in the American government, especially in U.S. special operations forces, especially in the American army? 

Or maybe they have grasped that this broad brush simplistic approach to Islamic studies helped the current president get elected? 

Perhaps he's suggesting that scholars who demonstrate a higher level of intellectual rigor are more likely to earn the respect of established academics and to be offered jobs?

Instead of considering these possibilities, you have doubled down. You find "hilarious" and "amusing" a clear and dire warning about a field of scholarly inquiry being subverted so that it can embolden the intellectual rot, the blind hate, the willful ignorance, the religious intolerance, the rabid us versus them nationalism, and theracism rampaging across the landscape of American and European politics.

It seemed pretty clear to me that @LadyPole meant "I find it amusing that you were told to study this period when this usually doesn't happen..."

Also, none of the above. He said something along the lines of writing on earlier Islam proves that you have a strong foundation in classical Islamic thought, when there is an assumption that those who write about modern Islam don't have this foundation. He isn't a historian, his field is religious studies.

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2 minutes ago, minion.banana said:

It seemed pretty clear to me that @LadyPole meant "I find it amusing that you were told to study this period when this usually doesn't happen..."

I'm out of up votes but I second this. 

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On 3/16/2017 at 5:12 PM, nevermind said:

Let's step back from the appeal to authority via Omid Safi. The advice above may have been directed to a particular individual's background/educational experience (minion banana) and thereby it might not be suitable to apply it broadly to all history graduate students or it could have been taken out of context/misunderstood altogether.

What is important is: to ASK YOUR OWN ADVISOR about career goals or other people in your department/university who know you, who know the market and CONSIDER THEIR ADVICE more seriously than strangers on the internet (me included). My two cents is (1) you need to choose your dissertation topic wisely, to be marketable and of interests to people with different backgrounds ("why does this topic matter to people who AREN"T interested in my niche specialty"?) AND (2) You'll (most likely) get burnt out on what you write about, so don't think that it will necessarily be "easier" if you're in love with the project (it might be, but it might be a short-lived romance as well). I work on modern stuff, but that doesn't mean that I ONLY learn about modern stuff...you should be cognizant and conversant of other topics (and perhaps even the historiography!) of other fields. Whether or not that's useful for your dissertation is up for you and your advisor to decide. You don't want to lose out on a job because you were too myopic or too general in your preparation--the difficulty (like all things in grad school) is finding the balance. 

This is an excellent point. In the end, it is your career and each of us has our own specific career goals. Perhaps you are not interested in a topic because it is popular, but it may none the less be an "of the moment" subject. Perhaps your dream is to write 300 pages on something that you know no one else will ever be interested in just because that is your passion. The topic you go into graduate school with will inevitably morph and evolve as part of an ongoing conversation and collaboration with your advisor. The people in your cohort, your faculty, and your inner academic circles should be the most important players in that conversation, not strangers on the internet who, however well meaning, also may not have your own personal best interest in mind.

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2 hours ago, minion.banana said:

He said something along the lines of writing on earlier Islam proves that you have a strong foundation in classical Islamic thought, when there is an assumption that those who write about modern Islam don't have this foundation.

Which is why the second sentence of my initial response basically said "I understand the reasoning behind this advice" because, again, as a medievalist (or if you must, one who studies the medieval period) that makes a lot of sense to me for Islamic studies even if I didn't necessarily expect to hear that perspective echoed from the upper echelons, so to speak.

I'm happy to move on from this if everyone else is.

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5 hours ago, MikeTheFronterizo said:

Honestly, I agree with this. As someone who has had there question highjacked and turned into a flaming debate, I feel like I do not want to ask or contribute anymore. A few pages back on this thread someone had her whole life come out and multiple posters constantly disparaged her. It has become more of a toxic environment rather than a useful forum for grad school.

I agree with this. Whatever side anyone took in all of that, this was not a very fun, relaxing, or constructive thread in that regard. I usually like GradCafe but this particular thread was rather shameful. It's actually the reason I didn't say much in this thread.

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31 minutes ago, ctg7w6 said:

I agree with this. Whatever side anyone took in all of that, this was not a very fun, relaxing, or constructive thread in that regard. I usually like GradCafe but this particular thread was rather shameful. It's actually the reason I didn't say much in this thread.

This thread has become more about bullying and driving away people who disagree with the opinions of a vocal minioriry than it is about actual advice and assistance 

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20 minutes ago, SarahBethSortino said:

This thread has become more about bullying and driving away people who disagree with the opinions of a vocal minioriry than it is about actual advice and assistance 

Many questions and comments became volatile when people did not agree. It was not even in a "constructive" from rather it turned into bullying and condescending replies. 

Anyways, I still want to encourage everyone to continue asking questions and advice. I would love to go back to reading thoughtful comments and actually discussing grad school.

Edited by MikeTheFronterizo

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22 minutes ago, MikeTheFronterizo said:

Many questions and comments became volatile when people did not agree. It was not even in a "constructive" from rather it turned into bullying and condescending replies. 

Anyways, I still want to encourage everyone to continue asking questions and advice. I would love to go back to reading thoughtful comments and actually discussing grad school.

It has been frustrating. I have a few real actual practical questions that I would love to post to this thread but I have actually been very apprehensive. I'm seeking advice, not condescension 

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3 minutes ago, SarahBethSortino said:

It has been frustrating. I have a few real actual practical questions that I would love to post to this thread but I have actually been very apprehensive. I'm seeking advice, not condescension 

Agreed.

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So in my effort to consider all possible outcomes, I'm tangling over a theoretical that might become a reality. 1st waitlisted school is my top choice. They have informed me they probably will not make notifications of waitlist acceptances until after the April 15th deadline. 2nd waitlisted school has informed me they will know something before that time, and if I get an offer before April 15th I will still only have until that date to decide. So what do I? Hold out for the top choice, which is looking good but not a definite by any means. Or, if it comes to that, take the sure thing in spite of the fact that it is not my preferred option. Would love to hear some constructive thoughts.

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@SarahBethSortino I can think of a couple of approaches to this. First thing: either way, you've just gotta wait it out. It sucks. I recommend developing a short term hobby as a distraction. Hanging around this site may do more harm than good in the next month, though ymmv. I can think of two possible scenarios you may want to consider.

1. If school 2 accepts you before the April 15 deadline, but well in advance of it, let school 1 know and reiterate that it's your first choice. Wait until the week of April 15, then if you still haven't heard anything from school 1, follow up. Let school 2 know you're still waiting and ask for an extension--maybe a week, maybe a few days. Tell school 1 you're asking for a decision extension at school 2. If school 2 grants the extension, yay! If not, I wouldn't hold my breath for a maybe from school 1 if that meant turning down an offer from school 2.

2. If school 2 accepts you very close to the April 15 deadline, ask for an extension. Reach out to school 1 as above: tell them you really want to go there, and maybe why. Since your personal circumstances will play a role in your decision, it's okay to mention it if it's something you're comfortable doing. Up to you! Say you're requesting an extension from school 2. See how it plays out.

When you ask for an extension from school 2, it may also be worth pointing out you have more to consider than just which school you're more excited about. Throwing a young family in the mix complicates things, and an admissions officer should be sympathetic to such challenges. Use your best judgement.

If you are accepted to school 2, after contacting school 1 start reminding yourself why you applied to school 2. What about the program invigorates you? What resources do they have that are unique? What's great and exciting about about the faculty, or the course structure, or the research opportunities? Look over any shiny marketing materials they send you. Look at their placement record, the funding offer, the quality of life at school 2. Visit, if you can and haven't already. Maybe visit again. Talk to your mentors. Talk to your family. Work at that new hobby and let things percolate through your brain. You may find that you don't want to wait until April 15 to decide. Personally, I think I'd wait just to see if anything changed with the waitlist, but you may prefer to have things settled. And there's nothing wrong with that!

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41 minutes ago, SarahBethSortino said:

So in my effort to consider all possible outcomes, I'm tangling over a theoretical that might become a reality. 1st waitlisted school is my top choice. They have informed me they probably will not make notifications of waitlist acceptances until after the April 15th deadline. 2nd waitlisted school has informed me they will know something before that time, and if I get an offer before April 15th I will still only have until that date to decide. So what do I? Hold out for the top choice, which is looking good but not a definite by any means. Or, if it comes to that, take the sure thing in spite of the fact that it is not my preferred option. Would love to hear some constructive thoughts.

Have you talked to school 2 and told them exactly this? If you have and their answer remains the same, I'd accept school 2's offer on the 15th, but withdraw if you hear back positively from school 1. It's generally considered gauche to pull out of an offer you've accepted, but if they won't work with you at all on this, I'm not sure what choice you have. 

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45 minutes ago, SarahBethSortino said:

So in my effort to consider all possible outcomes, I'm tangling over a theoretical that might become a reality. 1st waitlisted school is my top choice. They have informed me they probably will not make notifications of waitlist acceptances until after the April 15th deadline. 2nd waitlisted school has informed me they will know something before that time, and if I get an offer before April 15th I will still only have until that date to decide. So what do I? Hold out for the top choice, which is looking good but not a definite by any means. Or, if it comes to that, take the sure thing in spite of the fact that it is not my preferred option. Would love to hear some constructive thoughts.

From reading your past posts, I believe that one of your waitlist options is a program I will be declining on Monday. Hopefully that may open things up a little bit earlier in the timetable for you. 

Feel free to PM me if you have questions. 

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17 minutes ago, telkanuru said:

Have you talked to school 2 and told them exactly this? If you have and their answer remains the same, I'd accept school 2's offer on the 15th, but withdraw if you hear back positively from school 1. It's generally considered gauche to pull out of an offer you've accepted, but if they won't work with you at all on this, I'm not sure what choice you have. 

I never even thought of the option of accepting and then withdrawing. I'd prefer if it not come to that, but it's certainly something to consider if all the situations align and I'm in a bind.

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29 minutes ago, LadyPole said:

@SarahBethSortino I can think of a couple of approaches to this. First thing: either way, you've just gotta wait it out. It sucks. I recommend developing a short term hobby as a distraction. Hanging around this site may do more harm than good in the next month, though ymmv. I can think of two possible scenarios you may want to consider.

1. If school 2 accepts you before the April 15 deadline, but well in advance of it, let school 1 know and reiterate that it's your first choice. Wait until the week of April 15, then if you still haven't heard anything from school 1, follow up. Let school 2 know you're still waiting and ask for an extension--maybe a week, maybe a few days. Tell school 1 you're asking for a decision extension at school 2. If school 2 grants the extension, yay! If not, I wouldn't hold my breath for a maybe from school 1 if that meant turning down an offer from school 2.

2. If school 2 accepts you very close to the April 15 deadline, ask for an extension. Reach out to school 1 as above: tell them you really want to go there, and maybe why. Since your personal circumstances will play a role in your decision, it's okay to mention it if it's something you're comfortable doing. Up to you! Say you're requesting an extension from school 2. See how it plays out.

When you ask for an extension from school 2, it may also be worth pointing out you have more to consider than just which school you're more excited about. Throwing a young family in the mix complicates things, and an admissions officer should be sympathetic to such challenges. Use your best judgement.

If you are accepted to school 2, after contacting school 1 start reminding yourself why you applied to school 2. What about the program invigorates you? What resources do they have that are unique? What's great and exciting about about the faculty, or the course structure, or the research opportunities? Look over any shiny marketing materials they send you. Look at their placement record, the funding offer, the quality of life at school 2. Visit, if you can and haven't already. Maybe visit again. Talk to your mentors. Talk to your family. Work at that new hobby and let things percolate through your brain. You may find that you don't want to wait until April 15 to decide. Personally, I think I'd wait just to see if anything changed with the waitlist, but you may prefer to have things settIled. And there's nothing wrong with that!

 I love it! You seem a lot like me, clearly thinking through every possibility. I appreciate the detailed advice. I've practiced a lot of restraint over the past few weeks and have tried not to reach out for constant updates. But it dawned on me yesterday that the situations could converge and I would have to make a tough decision. I was invited to go up and meet with my POI in two weeks at waitlist #1, so I think I might try to informally bring it up to him. He has told me that although I should never turn down a full offer in favor of a waitlist, I should not do anything without talking to him. That is just him, though, and I don't know how strict the DGS would be when it comes to firm deadlines.

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11 hours ago, SarahBethSortino said:

It has been frustrating. I have a few real actual practical questions that I would love to post to this thread but I have actually been very apprehensive. I'm seeking advice, not condescension 

I have had enough of the bullying by @Telkanuru, @Sigaba, and others. They have been condescending and abusive and are doing a disservice to the applicants just trying to get advice.

 

I can’t imagine that the institutions where these bullies study would in any way condone what they have been doing. I have decided to make an example of Telkanuru. Therefore, I have emailed the following people at Brown - Amy Remensnyder, Robert Self and Christina Paxson about the abuse with relevant links.

 

If there is any more bullying, I will notify other institutions about the despicable behavior of their graduate students. Sigaba and the others, you have been warned.

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