This article about Akbar Sayeed, a UW-Madison PI who drove his graduate student John Brady to suicide, is chilling. Not because Sayeed's behavior is outrageous, but because it's familiar. We only hear about these stories when they have dramatic endings
“Bullying, harassment, abuse and other mistreatments that create toxic research groups are too common across academia.” Anyone who doesn’t take grad students seriously when they talk about abusive mentors needs to read this article.
No students and unpaid leave for toxic advisors, at the very least. We need actual consequences for bad behavior.
Too Little, Too Late: Graduate student's suicide at UW Madison is a devastating cautionary tale about abusive lab environments [and why universities have a duty of care for their students.] #bullying
Here are just some of the costs of the academy's general unwillingness to fire abusive professors.
It’s prob easier to fire someone for stealing than it is to fire them for abusive behavior. “For years, there had been frequent turnover in Sayeed’s lab. That left fewer and fewer students to do more and more work and absorb Sayeed’s rages and insults.”
A PhD student committed suicide after suffering in a toxic work environment with an abusive advisor. If you see this in your department, report it to faculty, your Chair, the Dean & Human Resources immediately. And change your mentoring policies.
Vile. Akbar Sayeed should never teach again. And yet he's set to go back to in January.