Former Dartmouth professor sues her students

Ivy League gone wild

In a grammatically challenged email to her one-time students, Prof. Priya Venkatesan informed them of her intent to sue them for discrimination in the poor teaching evaluations they rudely gave her.

She included this threat: I am also writing a book detailing my experiences as your instructor, which will “name names” so to speak. I have all of your evaluations and these will be reproduced in the book.

Venkatesan then signed off with, Have a nice day.

All that was missing was the smiley face.

3 Responses to Former Dartmouth professor sues her students

  1. RA says:

    Of course Venkatesan’s e-mail is grammatically challenged. India may claim English as an official language, but the reality is often very different, as anyone knows who has sat through a few Indian-delivered presentations or lectures. The quality of communication varies widely and is usually not good.

    This kind of friction is only likely to get worse as American colleges and universities increasingly hire foreign nationals with unacceptably poor English skills for teaching positions. Hopefully the threat of YouTube will help rein in some of the more flagrant idiocies that occur every semester. Sometimes whole classes are derailed by this and whole careers wrecked.

    Examples that have occurred in the US:
    A required upper-level engineering course taught by a professor who cannot speak coherently in English.
    A graduate-level computer science course taught by an English-challenged foreign national, whose TA is also an English-challenged foreign national, but from a separate country and language group from the prof.
    A department chair foreign national who hires a plagiarizing former PhD student (also a foreign national) to help oversee theses written predominantly by international students, most of which turn out to be plagiarized from other sources and from each other.

  2. Ron says:

    Interesting info, RA. Thanks. I learn a lot reading your enlightening comments.

  3. RA says:

    The following quotes indicate that, even given Venkatesan’s comparative command of English language, she may not be an acceptable hire for a college-level writing class:

    “I am a currently a Fellow at one of the most reputed research (emphasize research) institutions in the country…” (e-mail to DartBlog)

    “I regret to inform you that I am pursuing a lawsuit in which I am accusing some of you (whom shall go unmentioned in this email) of violating Title VII of anti-federal discrimination laws.” (e-mail to students)

    “You are being specifically accused of, but not limited to, harassment. Please do not respond to this email as it will be used against you in a court of law.” (ibid)

    “Sure, I am like, I really have a lot of work right now, I have two book manuscripts to work on, that doesn’t even include the manuscript about my life in higher education, I have two grants to work on, I have an article to work on, I have three articles to work on, I really have so much work to do and you would not even believe, I really have a lot of work to do.” (from Venkatesan’s oral interview in The Dartmouth Review)

    As for the three incidents I described previously, the first two occurred at ASU. There was coverage of the last one in the Wall Street Journal – the text of the article is reproduced at:

    http://lu.ceat.okstate.edu/thesisplagiarism.htm

    Some issues surrounding employing foreign nationals as faculty are described at “Inside Higher Ed” in the article “Integrating Foreign Faculty,” viewable here:

    http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/01/24/international