The Literary Salon

A free salon wherein patrons and passers-by may view or contribute ideas on literary and generally intellectual matters. The blog will strive to maintain its commitment to wit, humour and perspicuous analysis.

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Location: Toronto, now Ottawa, Ont, Canada

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I received the following internal letter in my mailbox at the English Department today:

"I regret to inform you that the Dept. of English was not able to recommend your file for the SSHRC scholarship program due to the fact that the documents submitted were not complete according to SSHRC regulations. The application of this SSHRC regulation does not imply in any way a negative judgement on your academic achievement to date or on your very interesting project for graduate study..."

A brief commentary: (I italicized the relevant section)

SSHRC is the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, a major granting agency, and I know for a fact that my letter was customized.
I wasn't surprised to get this because I knew one of my referees (who shall remain nameless, but whose name rhymes with "finish" if you remove the first and last letters) screwed up majorly. First he failed to submit the obligatory checklist along with the letter, then he failed to write the letter on the official SSHRC form. When I told him SSHRC wouldn't accept what he gave me, he got impatient and essentially told me to be happy with what I got. How unfair it is that I actually had a shot this year, and something so stupid as this, which was out of my control, ruined my chances. And people wonder why I rarely apply for these things: something so stupid that's outside of my control usually ruines it for me.

I'm glad I no longer attend York: with few exceptions, profs couldn't be bothered to do things right, and they rarely gave a damn about you. It is very different here, thankfully: for example, I had a respected scholar in my field not only encourage me to apply for SSHRC but volunteered to help me with my statement (the same prof told me I was "in business" with my proposal). In five years at York I never saw anything like that: I would have to hound a professor and bother them for weeks just so they could look at it, and rarely was that of any help. Don't even get me started on procuring reference letters!!
This is in addition, of course, to York's other problems: depressing atmosphere and insane overcrowding.

Hopefully at least I have a shot at OGS (Ontario Graduate Scholarship). As far as I know, there was no problem with document regulations. Knowing my luck, something like the transcripts will be unsatisfactory, because they are out of my control.

Dr. J, now I know what you were talking about all those years; I see the difference.


Blogger Zelda said...

how shitty! will you let that prof know that he screwed you over?

6:38 a.m.  
Blogger Pious Labours said...

I most certainly will. I just received confirmation today from the Graduate Director here that his letter was the only problem in my otherwise excellent application. She also told me they tried to contact him 2x but he failed to send another letter.

10:53 a.m.  
Blogger Zelda said...

what a jerk! he fucked you over!

5:57 p.m.  
Blogger Dr J said...

Fucked over? By a professor?!?! You don't say!

And here, some of us such things were just urban(e) myths....

12:34 p.m.  
Blogger Dr J said...

And here, some of us such things were just urban(e) myths....

Er, that should read: "And here, some us THOUGHT such things were just urban(e) myths...."

12:35 p.m.  
Blogger Pious Labours said...

yes, he did ROYALLY
the problem is he is so high up and senior, and probably makes more than the chair of the dept, so there's really no point in doing/saying anything. The director of my program recommended silence. After all, she said if he was antagonized by SSHRC's requirements, you don't wanna piss him off further. There's no telling what he may do.
I'm still thinking on this, but I think he should somehow know what he did because he was not merely negligent, but deliberately refused to do what he was told.

1:09 p.m.  
Blogger Dr J said...

Silence, alas, is really your only choice. It's also, unfortunately, how some profs get away with the shit they do--- and proof, too, that advanced degrees are by no means indicators of maturity and/or intelligence. I guarantee you that you'll exacerbate things by calling attention to the problem. I guerre-en-tea it.

(And you used to wonder why I was so cynical.)

2:57 p.m.  
Blogger psychgrad said...

A similar thing happened to a friend of mine - except her referee didn't even write the reference letter in time for the SSHRC/OGS deadlines. Seems like intentional sabotage (particularly since the granting agencies are so fussy).

My department usually contacts students to notify them if their application is incomplete/filled out incorrectly.

8:38 p.m.  

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