My name is Yang Shi. I am a sixth year PhD candidate in Economics at the University of Texas at Austin. While I was busying working on my dissertation under the guidance of my thesis advisor, planning to graduate next summer, an unexpected disaster happened to me. A newly appointed Graduate Studies Advisor in the Economics Department—Leigh Linden --suddenly terminated my PhD program, his reason was that he thought I did not fully fulfill a temporary management plan that he himself made for me for the last semester, yet one of the core requirements of his temporary management plan was just to meet two professors in the Economics Department every two weeks. Leigh Linden is not on my dissertation committee, he is not in my research field either. He arbitrarily made the termination decision, even without consulting with my Thesis Advisor, let alone listening to my Thesis Advisor’s opinion.
My Thesis Advisor and I both object to this arbitrary termination decision. I appealed to the Graduate School under formal procedures, hoping to receive a fair judgment. The Graduate School required the Economics Department to re-evaluate this termination decision. Yet, Leigh Linden organized a very suggestive and biased so called “No protest vote” in the Economics Department, requiring professors to vote by replying an email in 72 hours. The vote target was “Do you object to terminate Yang Shi”, meanwhile purposely attached very subjective yet harsh criticism on my paper, to affect the vote result. This vote that preset that I should be terminated was obviously biased and suggestive, what’s more, there was no abstention right. They regarded those people who did not vote in 72 hours as agreed to terminate me. The vote process was very hasty and careless. There was no meeting and I was not provided with any opportunity to introduce my case to the professors that would participate in the vote. The vote was held during professors’ summer holiday. Any arbitrary reply, having no time to reply or could not reply due to not fully understand my case would be treated as agreed to terminate me. It is out of question that what result this manipulated vote would generate.
During the appeal process, the Graduate School Dean told me that my dissertation committee’s support was the premise for me to continue to finish my PhD program, I therefore provided him with the evidence of support from my committee. Yet, in August 12th 2016, the Graduate School Dean still approved the termination decision made by the Economics Department. It seems that though the Graduate School Dean sympathized with me and told me that he thought the Economics Department had faults on this case, merely because of the insistence of Leigh Linden and several other professors in the Economics Department, he was still reluctant to correct the Economics Department’s wrong decision.
This arbitrary decision with abusing of power has seriously harmed me and my family. It totally destroyed my six years’ life and efforts, completely destroyed my life and future. I came to the United States six years’ ago with hope, now I am almost hopeless……
There were four students got terminated by Leigh Linden for trivial reasons this time. We all think his unreasonable decision was very unfair, we have all appealed to the Graduate School. It has been three months since this accident happened to me, during this period the unfair treatment has made me extremely exhausted, I feel very sad and disappointed. The purposive and suggestive process of termination by the UT-Austin Economics Department has greatly harmed my spirit, my mind and my heath. I firmly believe that United States is a society that upholds truth and fairness. A true fair administrator will not make such unfair decision. Dear friends, please be the judge, please uphold justice for us! Thank you!