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Student groups plead for the reinstatement of a graduate student


UChicago Without Borders (UWB) and Phoenix Survivors Alliance (PSA) have published a letter supporting the reinstatement of Zain Jamshaid, a former doctoral student. candidate for the Department of Cinema and Media Studies (CMS). They demand that CMS allow Jamshaid to complete his PhD at UChicago.

Jamshaid filed a Title IX complaint against a professor in his department in March 2020. CMS placed him on academic probation in May 2020, citing insufficient quality and progress in his thesis. The ministry fired him in December 2020.

In an interview conducted by Brown and the Hyde Park Herald in February this year, Jamshaid called his dismissal a retaliatory measure in response to the complaint he filed. In response to his withdrawal from his program, Jamshaid filed a complaint with the Civil Rights Office (OCR) of the Department of Education (ED) in late December 2020.

Last year, as the ED conducted a Title IX investigation into Jamshaid’s allegations, it raised $ 29,125 through a GoFundMe page that many activist groups on campus amplified. According to UWB and Jamshaid, some of these funds were used to cover his legal costs to seek asylum. In an interview with UWB and Jamshaid, the organization said it contacted him after learning of his dismissal from his doctorate. program caused him to lose his student visa.

On September 18, UWB and PSA issued a letter of support demanding that the CMS department reinstate Jamshaid as a doctor. candidate for the fall or winter term and provides him with a new committee chair, as his original chair retired from Jamshaid’s mentorship after Jamshaid was fired from the program. In addition, the letter asks the University as a preventive measure not to charge him the tuition fees for the period during which he was terminated.

If no CMS faculty member offers to chair the Jamshaid committee, UWB and PSA are also asking the department to authorize Jamshaid’s former mentor, Richard Peña, a professor at Columbia University where Jamshaid earned his masters degree. , to chair the committee instead. According to the Humanities Division website, under which the Film and Media Studies department is located, a “thesis supervisor must be a faculty member in the student’s home department.”

“Yes [no faculty member of CMS agrees to chair Jamshaid’s committee], [UWB and PSA] thinks that’s not a reason Zain shouldn’t be able to complete a PhD. he has been working for so many years. UWB member Valentina Villarroel said. “And it’s a break in divisional politics, but divisional politics is just a little cruel.”

In a statement to Brown, Peña said he was “always very willing to serve on Zain Jamshaid’s thesis committee in any capacity that might be most useful, as I look forward to seeing his valuable work on Turkish cinema be completed for his doctorate. “

If a chairperson is found for the Jamshaid committee, the letter further requests that CMS vote immediately to reinstate Jamshaid in the fall or winter term. As the fall reinstatement deadline passed, Jamshaid said he was prepared to wait until the winter term. “I just really want a chair to sign on…[to] advise my thesis in the last stages and allow me to defend it. It is not something that should take more than two to three quarters.

The letter finally asks the university not to charge Jamshaid tuition fees for the terms he missed.

“The tuition fee exemption was a very important point for Zain,” Villaroel said, and later explained in a statement to Brown that Jamshaid feared the University would try to dissuade him from re-entering his program by charging him back. “It’s a roadblock where it’s like, [Jamshaid] still can [continue with his research], but it is not feasible.

UWB and PSA stand ready to organize further actions to push the university and CMS administration to return to Jamshaid if these efforts are unsuccessful.

According to a statement by a university spokesperson regarding the Jamshaid Reinstatement Campaign, “Academic decisions are based on the academic judgments of faculty in the department regarding the timeliness and quality of work against requirements and standards. program expectations “.

So far, the letter has garnered 393 signatures of support, including 43 graduate students and 14 faculty members. 224 undergraduates and 57 alumni also enrolled.