Bullying and Possible Discrimination


I need help and feel I have nowhere to turn! The other day I met with the chair of my comp exam committee about the results of my comprehensive exam. One evaluator, someone external to my department (an expert in my field of study) rated my exam very highly, and the other evaluator, an internal member of my department, failed me. Overall, I was given a pass as a result of the high evaluation.

This exam was considered a revision, but it actually was a new grant proposal. My first proposal, completed last fall, was given a pass by an external examiner, who said my topic had great potential public health importance. I was given a fail by the evaluator internal to the department. This evaluator instructed me to go back to the drawing board and said my project had little public health importance (meanwhile, she was neither an expert in my topic nor my type of research design). Despite the fact I received a pass and a failure, my program chair agreed with the internal evaluator, and had me return to the drawing board to do an entirely new proposal.

After my comp exam chair communicated the results of my exam to me, she said that I was an abysmal student, someone who was undedicated and lacked perserverance, who lacked intelligence, and who should not be in the program, due to my disability. She instructed me to think about whether I want to continue in the program and told me to leave her office. Upon leaving her office, she told me I am not a star candidate in the program, which will greatly influence my chances of gaining employment, and to keep that in the back of my mind when making a decision.

I was shocked to say the least, not only by her lack of professionalism, but using my disability against me. To say I am an abysmal student is inaccurate, as I have obtained superior standing in all my coursework, obtained a few competitive grants and presented at different conferences over the past 2 years.

In addition, the fact she knew about my disability was a surprise to me, but once I left her office, I figured out how she may have acquired this information. Last year, due to my disability, I had to take a short leave and put a course on hold. My program chair said she would not grant me the hold unless I gave her a letter from my physician stating my specific disability, the symptoms associated with this disability, and how it could impact my coursework. My physician was angry at the time he drafted this letter, as he felt this information was no one's business, but he complied as I informed him that she would not grant my hold, unless she was provided such a letter. This letter was placed in my "file" and I have no idea who has had access to this information.

On a couple of occassions, following this leave, I needed some accomodations for my work, and disability services communicated this to the relevant parties. These parties were not accomodating and there was some conflict between my department and disability services, which was eventually r


Your post was cut off because it exceeded the word count, but it sounds like you're trying to decide whether to stay in the program, continue elsewhere, or request a formal investigation regarding your department chair's actions. I do hope you'll continue the post so that people on the forum can make suggestions, if you think that will be helpful.

Have you spoken to anyone in disability services, or your academic supervisor about this?


======= Date Modified 29 Aug 2012 09:41:10 =======
Hi PhDiva,

I'm sorry you're having problems but like Dalmatian said it would help for you to finish your post so that we have the whole picture :)