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gemmamurdoch
Saturday, 2 February 2019 at 3:36pm
Friday, 10 January 2020 at 10:17am
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Thread: Advice on what to do about academic situation that ended badly?

posted
10-Jan-20, 10:22
edited about 5 minutes later
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posted about 1 week ago
‪My question is whether I should try to reach out to this academic to explain what happened to me and why I acted how I did and to apologise? If so, how should I do it? Via email, or in person? Or maybe it’s too late? I just feel terrible because to them, it must have looked like at one point that I just withdrew myself from the Department (when I was previously a hugely active member of the PG community there) and then blamed it on them. (3)

Thanks in advance.

Thread: Advice on what to do about academic situation that ended badly?

posted
10-Jan-20, 10:22
edited about 24 seconds later
Avatar for gemmamurdoch
posted about 1 week ago
In the end, I quit my job as an RA and had to move back to my parents’ house.

This was over 2 hours away from campus. After this, I found my MA very difficult, and due to a combination of all of these circumstances, I was rejected for PhD funding a few months later. I wanted to explain to my Department what had happened, but felt too worried about breaching confidentiality agreements myself and getting into trouble in terms of the contracts I'd signed to be an RA.

‪When I didn’t receive funding, I spoke to the Head of Department about what my possible next steps could be, and almost told them, but instead I ended up getting upset and crying in their office. I said that I felt thatI had been abandoned by the Department. The Head of Department was clearly upset themselves that I felt this way. It wasn't a nice interaction (though wasn't an argument) and after that, I didn't speak to any staff in the Department again. I just stayed home and tried to study and get better.

‪In the end, I left the University with my MA but also with no one and very few support networks, having isolated myself from everyone. Now I’m a PhD student and I did get funding. However, I feel regret about the way my education ending at my MA institution, which was a fantastic place and which I loved.

‪I also feel terrible every day about what I said to the Head of Department. They were the best teacher I’d ever had and they are also one of the foremost scholars in my current field. Eventually, the investigation into what happened with the student was closed quite recently - nothing ever came of it, and they graduated after an extra year out as far as I know. (2)

Thread: Advice on what to do about academic situation that ended badly?

posted
10-Jan-20, 10:22
edited about 38 seconds later
Avatar for gemmamurdoch
posted about 1 week ago
‪(Content warning - some may find this post distressing due to discussions of mental health/self-harm.

Hello community - I could use some advice! I’m a 1st year PhD student, and I went through a difficult time during my MA that I’d like to get some help with.

‪I worked as an Residential Advisor (RA) on campus for 4 years before my MA and during. It was a great job, but was also a lot of responsibility. The final year I was there (which was during my MA) I had a student living in my halls who was experiencing severe mental health issues. This was not a new situation, as sadly lots of students need extra support, and I had worked with students like this before.

‪One night, I received a call on the emergency cell from this student, at about 3am. They had attempted to take their own life, and due to issues within my RA team, I was the only one available to help. I went to the student’s room and saw the situation, carried out emergency first-aid, phoned the ambulance and then accompanied them to the ER.‬

‪I stayed with the student for the night until they were discharged, and arranged further support. However, to cut a long story short, the student began to contact me day and night via email/phone, saying that if I didn’t go to their room to speak to them as and when they asked, they’d do it again.

‪In the end, I was diagnosed with PTSD in relation to what I saw when I went to the student’s room that first night. After this, they called me repeatedly, hourly, 2, 3, 4am, and sent emails several times a day.

‪I sought help from the higher ups in the team, as we were supposed to in this kind of situation, and though they were aware of this student and the issues going on, they said they couldn’t do much to help. I began to experience severe anxiety myself and became quite ill. (1)

Thread: Please help - considering formal complaint against University.

posted
02-Feb-19, 15:51
Avatar for gemmamurdoch
posted about 11 months ago
(Continued from above).

I then received a message from a staff member at the University, stating someone had sent them my Tweet, and that they were 'shocked' I felt this way. I felt really uncomfortable, and replied basically saying that I was sorry I had Tweeted (my Tweet said: 'Would this be a good time to mention that X institution didn't fund my research on X topic?' and that is all). I then felt so intimidated that I deleted the Tweet, and messaged the staff member back and said I had deleted it because I didn't want to cause trouble for anyone. They ignored the message.

With all this in mind, I just feel like I had such a bad experience with the Uni that I want to consider formal action. Maybe I am just overreacting though?

Any advice would be appreciated.

Thread: Please help - considering formal complaint against University.

posted
02-Feb-19, 15:49
Avatar for gemmamurdoch
posted about 11 months ago
(Continued from above).

No one received funding in the end, so I was kind of down but altogether I understood competition was fierce.

A week later, I asked the other applicant from my MA course what he was thinking of doing now that we hadn't got funding. He said (in a room full of people) that the Department had contacted him directly and offered him funding. This is funding that was not advertised, and that neither of us applied for. I immediately tried to speak to the Head of Department as I wanted to know how this had happened, and how no one had even emailed me to let me know what had happened.

I found out a meeting had taken place after the funding decisions were made and we were rejected (I still don't know when, where or who was there) which decided that one project would be funded by the Department directly. I was informed that the decision was made on the strength of the applicant's academic record, and that the other student had pipped me to the post by a few marks on a module.

After this, the Department stopped speaking to me about it. I was never emailed, or offered any support or advice on what to do next. No one even told me about my other options post-MA. I had to do a dissertation for my MA, and because my supervisor was Head of Department, I felt uncomfortable speaking to her directly and didn't receive any supervision for my dissertation. It went well, but it could have been better, and even the Head's comments on the piece say that they wondered why I hadn't asked for more support.

I left the Uni, and received funding to do my PhD elsewhere, happy days. I never ever told anyone why I didn't do my PhD at the original Uni. Yesterday I finally tweeted about it (privately, tagging no one/mentioning the Uni but not the Department).

(Continued below).

Thread: Please help - considering formal complaint against University.

posted
02-Feb-19, 15:42
edited a moment later
Avatar for gemmamurdoch
posted about 11 months ago
Hey everyone,

I am new here but desperately in need of some advice because I am considering initialising complaint procedures against my former University institution, which is a Russell group University in the U.K.

This is essentially the whole story, below:

I started my MA at this Uni in 2017. I wanted to continue on and also carry out my PhD at this Uni. I began applying for the PhD place in November 2017, one month after starting. A staff member emailed all students and said that whoever wanted to pursue a PhD needed to email him with a brief description of the project they wanted to do. I did this, and received an email back stating that the staff member would be in touch soon with details on who would be proposing to supervise me.

I heard nothing back, but didn't worry as I assumed it was a process that was quite time consuming. In December, by accident, I bumped into another staff member in the hall who asked me how my PhD application was coming along. I said I was waiting to hear back about who was supervising me, and this staff member was alarmed, stating that they had already offered to supervise me, that I had two weeks to go to the scholarship submission deadline and that things were not looking good.

I went home and started working non-stop on my application. I sent it backwards and forwards via email to this staff member that had said they had already offered to supervise me. I received many emails in return that were basically along the lines of 'I'm just not sure we have the time now to bother with this application' and so on. I persisted, and eventually the application was considered to be in a fit state to go ahead with, because I worked on it so much in the short time I had. I did not meet with this person face to face at all during this process.

(See reply post for rest).
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