My story as a PhD Student in Sachsen, 07.2018

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AOB_concerned
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My story as a PhD Student in Sachsen, 07.2018

Beitrag von AOB_concerned » 19.07.2018, 18:40

Let me start by apologizing for not writing this in German since my German is not yet as perfect as it should be. Also, deducing from my preferred choice of language, i am a foreigner doing my PhD in Germany. Still, i want to point out that i have done my masters studies in Baden Württemberg Germany.

My story started when i decided, after a year working as scientific staff at one the big research institute in Bayern, to pursue a doctoral degree. I got an offer for a place in TU Chemnitz and at the contrary advise of friends, i accepted the position since i would continue in exactly same field of research that i had worked on so far. Arriving at the professorship, what strike me as odd was that even though i was offered a full-time position just as my other colleagues, there seems to be hardly any public funded projects (Knowing fully well that most PhD students are usually used as cheap labor for the professors, I would confess i was happy with the offer). What we had mostly to do was to use our tools to carry out test that has been paid for by companies and experiment explicitly designed by them. In the sense, we were just working for the company while being paid by the Sachsen state.

Next, on arrival what i observed first was that everyone in the chair said that the chair was the best in the world. Overtime, i had come to realize that this was the predisposition of the professor and somehow everyone sucks up to him by saying that. For me, i didn't care to disagree with them (even my closet friends in the chair) but would rather want to do my job quietly and ask or answer questions when anyone asked or when i had one. However, i had a colleague who is so arrogant that he says that he is better than some renowned Professors working in the field. I find such attitude very repugnant and because of this, i started to dislike him. He would always try to influence everybody's work, dish out commands to other PhD students on how to do their work and say he is better than the rest of thee PhD students. I had started preferring not to ask him or get him involved in my work. I just disliked to hear him brag on ignorance (Even though he is a PhD student working on Semiconductor device reliability, he once said with very great certainty that structural crystal defects comes from sawing process during wafer slicing ). Somehow, the professor doesn't care about this even though the professor many times had to correct his absurd lack of understanding of the basic semiconductor physics. But i seem not to and probably, this was my undoing.

Now, he had a very bad attitude and would throw childish tantrums when he doesn't get his way. Let me point out right here that he is not in any of the said project or responsible for any of the said projects. My German colleagues always try not to get with him but would shut him down when he starts coming into their work to dictate what they do in their project. The foreigners somehow accepted his antics. Reason? He has the voice of the professor and everyone wants to graduate. But i didn't. And so when he wanted to have his way to my work, i polity told him i am busy. He tried again, this time infront of a student whom i have asked to carry out a research work for me. I got fed up with him, i just out-rightly ignored him and walked away to get something i need for my work. He said some things and called me an A**hole. Such unprofessional was very unpleasant to me and i decided to call him out on that. Now, the professor heard all and just came to calm the situation. Later on a private conversation, the professor told me that he (My fellow PhD student) was given the right by him to supervise my work. This was so out-of-place and i was very unhappy that the boss would even say such. Having known that no doubt that there were other issues factored into such such decision, i felt very sad and walked by to my office.

The next day, emboldened by the professor, he came to where i was trying to carry out my work to ask why i was doing what i was doing without his approval. I told him that i need not his approval to do my work and that as a matter of fact, we were colleagues on same salary scale and having same degree. I simply said if you say so, i will just respond by (he showed me the middle finger). I went to talk with thee boss again to clarify such unprofessional misconduct but he simply told me that i should not come with such issues to him. His behavior continued in this manner until i got fed-up after in another scenario, he called me a F**ker. Knowing so far i have always asked the professor to deal with this behavior by word of mouth and knowing that he can simply deny being aware of the issues, this time, I wrote the Professor asking for an appointment to discuss this colleagues unprofessional conduct to me. He offered none to me. At this point and after reading about some of the issues faced by other PhD students in the internet, i decided to go directly to thee University management. Little did i know that that the University management is a tool used only in the protection of the University image and for professors to protect other professors.

To take a short cut to this story, i got the Personalrat, the Faculty dean, the faulty dean of studies, the anti-mobbing officer and the rector of the university to the matter. Few days after discussing the case with the dean of the faculty, i saw an advert for a professorship position currently occupied by my said professor.

On a day, i had a call with an assistant to the University rector informing me that the rector had just spoken with my Professor and that he should have this discussion with me same day. I got a call from my professor asking me to come to his office where another colleague of mine was present in the meeting. First, he proceeded to inform me that my contract will not be extended and that he spoke with the rector concerning my email to him. Next he said that he acknowledges that such situation is legally not allowed to exist in workplace and that something would be done about it. Furthermore, He has asked the colleague involved and that he said that he only called me F**ker and not the other ones claimed. I informed my professor that the good thing is that there were witnesses when he called me such names and he could ask.

In any case, it's been one month after my complaint to the University. After the earlier call from the rector's office, i written to almost all of the people i got involved in the situation and none of them replies to my Email or returns a missed telephone call. Also, there has not been any form of penalty melted to the said colleague and i am left alone with the burden of loosing my job for complaining about such unprofessional conduct from my professor and said colleague. At the advise of my girlfriend, i have hired a lawyer to deal with this.

So this is my story as an African PhD student in Sachsen.

Note: I have to say that such behavior is still prevalent on the streets and as a foreigner there are city areas where i cannot rent an apartment because of high presence of NeoNazis and groups like that.

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user0
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Re: My story as a PhD Student in Sachsen, 07.2018

Beitrag von user0 » 21.07.2018, 10:56

First of all, I am sorry that you have been treated this way. I was born in east Germany and I hope that you do not project this experience on everyone else there, this would not do justice to most people. Stay calm, strong, polite and think carefully about your next steps without being overwhelmed by worries.
He has the voice of the professor and everyone wants to graduate. But i didn't.


I do not really understand the first sentence. From what you are writing, it seems like the professor favors him over the other PhD students and might even consider him as a replacement. I cannot judge whether that is based on scientific merits or personal likings.

Also, are you saying you do not want to graduate? Why would you do a PhD then?
Later on a private conversation, the professor told me that he (My fellow PhD student) was given the right by him to supervise my work.


I understand your reaction here, this is very strange - or better to say unprofessional - indeed. At least you should have been informed about this decision prior to him trying to interfere with your work. Perhaps there was a misunderstanding here that made everything spiral out of control later.
I told him that i need not his approval to do my work and that as a matter of fact, we were colleagues on same salary scale and having same degree.


Well, a PhD should give you the opportunity to work on a scientific project on your own with occaisional help from professionals in the field (usually the professor or a postdoc). The situation you are describing does not really cohere with that.
After the professor has told you that he should supervise your project, I am afraid that you should have granted your collegue insight into what you were doing though. Given the relation between you two, it might have been a good idea to go to the professor again and talk about the appropriate supervision of the project that will get you most effectively to finishing the thesis (interference from someone you do not get along with personally is not auxiliary to that goal). Perhaps it is not to late to do that.

Don't you have a supervision agreement? It should say how the supervision is carried out.

Also, if he helps you, why not accept it? You can always say no, it's your project in the end (saying no to professors is a different issue...).
Few days after discussing the case with the dean of the faculty, i saw an advert for a professorship position currently occupied by my said professor.
Why do you think that was there?
he proceeded to inform me that my contract will not be extended
Did he say why? Will you be able to finish your PhD then?
At the advise of my girlfriend, i have hired a lawyer to deal with this.
Yes, that is a good decision - depending, of course, on what you are trying to achieve. Be careful though, lawyers are expensive.

I wish you all the best and I hope you get out of this situation well.

Dell
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Re: My story as a PhD Student in Sachsen, 07.2018

Beitrag von Dell » 22.07.2018, 08:17

The only question right now is, whether you could graduate with the work done by the end of the contract.
If not, you need to find a way to leave on good enough terms to allow you to find another studentship elsewhere.

AOB_concerned
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Re: My story as a PhD Student in Sachsen, 07.2018

Beitrag von AOB_concerned » 23.07.2018, 21:09

Dell hat geschrieben:
22.07.2018, 08:17
The only question right now is, whether you could graduate with the work done by the end of the contract.
If not, you need to find a way to leave on good enough terms to allow you to find another studentship elsewhere.
Unfortunately not. That's what that really stresses me right now

AOB_concerned
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Re: My story as a PhD Student in Sachsen, 07.2018

Beitrag von AOB_concerned » 23.07.2018, 21:31

user0 hat geschrieben:
21.07.2018, 10:56

Thank you. This is actually what i need right now
First of all, I am sorry that you have been treated this way. I was born in east Germany and I hope that you do not project this experience on everyone else there, this would not do justice to most people. Stay calm, strong, polite and think carefully about your next steps without being overwhelmed by worries.



The fact remains as to the reason why the professor favours his saying. What really strikes me here is that from other German colleagues of mine, his behaviour is not tolerated. He seldom reads literature and basically does not know anything about my work field. I just, at first and still do, feel that the Professor knows of his unprofessional behaviour and accepts it.

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