We are a group of graduate international students (* PhD, * Masters) pursuing our dreams and future goals at Civil & Environmental Engineering Department in MSU (Michigan State University). Today our dream is on the verge to shatter. Today we are being victimized despite being the victims of ethnic and religious racism at the hands of those who should have been our guardians and protectors. To cover the follies committed by a faculty member, MSU unfortunately chose to forward our case to homeland security to get our visas terminated. I have to say Larry Nassar has returned with a different name this time. It was sexual abuse last time* and its intellectual and racial abuse this time. An abuse is an abuse* the offender needs to be taken down and victims need to be protected, come what may! Many who have been through the graduate student life know how hard it can be on you at times. The coursework coupled with rigorous research work has its own dynamics. But we have more to bring to everyone’s knowledge through our experiences at MSU so far and so long.*Till three days ago, we were doing our research with Dr. Parviz Soroushian who was an established professor at MSU with research interests in material sciences. Since this was an area of much interest for us, we approached him to be our research advisor. He told us that he will advise us, but we will have to work on our research in the laboratories at Metna Corporation, a company owned by him in Lansing city. He told us that his company is under a contract with MSU, so his students are permitted to work on their research there and he can manage his business interests alongside guiding the students in their respective research areas. Being on student visas in United States we had to undergo some paperwork (CPT) which permits us to work for a fixed number of hours off campus, ** to be precise. *Initially he was very easy on all of us. He didn’t expect us to come to his company on days we had a class in campus, so it was two or three days per week in the laboratory initially. But gradually he led us into the illusion that we were not doing enough to graduate on time and in order to do so we need to come every day and work in laboratory. He was now using his position of advisor to influence us into doing work at the laboratory that we were not even supposed to do. He started using us as workers for his company’s commercial interests. Let us say out loud that he started to harass and abuse the students in different ways by exploiting their religious, ethnic and intellectual backgrounds. *He assigned us on separate projects for his company. He would expect us to work* deal with hazardous chemicals, lift heavy loads around mills, carryout minor repair works for some of the faulty lab equipment, work as janitor and sweeper, coordinate and supervise the hired labors performing repair and maintenance of company. He is an enlisted government contractor who seeked funding amounting to millions of dollars for different projects from miscellaneous government and private organizations. Our research areas were virtually at no priority for him and they nearly became a secondary priority even for us. We were more concerned that our advisor should remain contended and satisfied with our work since he made us believe that he is the person who was going to help us graduate.*We all had different projects but one common obligation though, it was to meet him at least once a week and update him about the weekly work progress. In the meetings he used to get upset on petty things* abusive language, shouting on students, showing offensive gestures was a routine matter. He would shout and insult the students regardless of their gender as if we were his personal slaves and he owned us literally. He was always upset with us if we asked for a leave or a recreation break even during summers. Taking the spring or summer breaks was unimaginable for students in his company. More than once an Indian student broke down into tears after he shouted and she had to bear it otherwise he threatened to cut her pay and even to affect her graduation dream. We felt helpless and exposed many a times. He manipulated and exploited our weaker position as students in his company’s interest. On different occasions, at least two of us even brought some irregularities in the notice of department chair but it seemed they couldn’t do much against a senior colleague despite being already in picture about some of the matters. We saw in awe all other students enjoying the university experience at campus, attending seminars and conferences and growing their horizons. Even now, not many students from our own department know us because we never came across each other. Things that he couldn’t do or say himself, he insisted and pushed senior students to force and influence other students under negative peer pressure. For instance, he asked one of the students to influence a student with disability to come and work in the lab at the timings of his choice which the senior student plainly refused reminding him that it would be unlawful to do so. *Now when we brought all these circumstances to the knowledge of University administration* we are being told that our visas are going to be scrutinized and terminated on the basis that we violated the laws by working off campus. However, Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS) issued us CPT and permitted us to work off campus. Now they say it’s illegal! We are feeling helpless and out of resources now. We write this open letter to reach out to all of you asking for support so that the real violators of law do not escape unnoticed. We are being bullied and treated unfairly. We want justice!
GetHuman-talal_h did not yet indicate what CNN should do to make this right.