On Campus

Student's hunger strike

After human rights complaint, profs don't want to supervise him

Photo courtesy of Aaron Yeo

A graduate student at the University of Alberta is going to desperate measures in a bid to find a new graduate supervisor.

Salah Rahmani, who was asked to leave the Department of Cell Biology — which he filed a human rights complaint against earlier this year — is on a hunger strike because he says no one in his new department, Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, is willing to supervise him.

“[Professors] are not co-operating. Some of them told me, ‘we don’t have space,’ or ‘we don’t have funding’,” he told The Gateway newspaper from the tent outside the university’s student union building where he has supposedly been living food-free since June 27. He alleges that fellow students got responses from professors about potentially supervising them, while he heard nothing back from those same professors.

On a blog set up to defend Rahmani, it is written that in a meeting with administrators on May 11, 2010: “Psychologist, Dr. Lorraine Breault who was their [sic] friend told that the chair can make any decision. Salah’s understanding was that this was absolutely wrong.” That meeting was set up after he accused a professor of likening him to a dog and saying he was too old to be a student. (Those are similar allegations to those he eventually made in January, 2011 human rights complaint.)

Rene Poliquin, vice-dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, said the faculty is concerned for Rahmani’s health and they are working to find a solution to his issue.

More than 20 supporters have left comments on the Help Salah Rahmani blog.