Protégé with Benefits
I have worked in the business office for a long time. Every year a certain professor selects a student to be his protégé and uses his research account to take them to conferences and other meetings. I know he is manipulating them psychologically if not sexually to get them to do research for him. They get discarded eventually and some have come to me in tears. They don’t want to do anything because they fear backlash. When I went to the chair about it he refused to act without a formal complaint because this professor is “a star”.
- Who are your allies in the department or the unit? Do others share your concerns? Could you collectively approach the chair?
- Persist. “I spoke with you last year about my concerns about Professor X. Another distressed student approached me today. The professor may be a star but this is also bad for our department and our students. I feel that I need to take it to other University resources if you won’t take it seriously.”
- Use current events. Share news articles about the Nasser case at Michigan State or other incidents to highlight the risks for all involved if signs of troubling behavior are ignored.
- Learn about University resources and the options for addressing informal complaints in the Speak Up Toolkit.
- Focus on your role in the matter. Is there an indication that funds are being misspent? If so, follow the procedures you would use with other faculty and their accounts.