After experiencing a lot of stress during my last undergrad. semester (and an episode of depression caused by my favorite professor declining to be my grad. advisor due to retirement), I worried that she didn't see me as graduate school material. (I received an A in her grad. level course but my final paper, I felt, was poorly written.) So, hoping to impress her, I submitted a proposal to a conference I knew she was attending, and it was accepted. Afterward, I emailed her asking for minor assistance with the project, but I perceived her response (obviously declining) as "curt." (I had no background in this area, submitted the proposal before beginning the project, and this was the first proposal I'd ever submitted to a conference.)
My anxiety disorder was out of control during this time, and I concluded that she was either angry at me for an unrelated reason (i.e. maybe I had spoken to a faculty member she didn't like etc.) or had simply "devalued" me after that paper. (I had thought we had a good rapport during the 2 semesters she taught me.) At that point I just wanted reassurance that our rapport was intact, so I emailed her a few days later, offering to withdraw the proposal but still asking for her assistance (explaining that I wanted to show her that I could produce better work when not under stress). When she didn't respond to this email within in 24 hrs. like she usually did, I "freaked out" and wrote to the Department Chair complaining not only about the unanswered email but also about her "tone" causing me anxiety on a few occasions.
In retrospect, the entire episode was rather bizarre, but keep in mind that my anxiety disorder was out of control when all this happened. Anyway, the Chair told me (by email, never bothered to meet with me) that my "grievances were being formally recorded" and that he was meeting with the dean to discuss the situation etc. He also asked the professor to respond to the unanswered email, where she more gently declined to help with the project. However, we never had the chance to have a conversation and work out any misunderstandings. For example, I wanted to know if she was upset with me for any reason and if she was comfortable writing me a lor after my research paper etc.
I later met with the dean to explain that my anxiety disorder was out of control when I had written to the chair, and she said that she had spoken to the professor, knew she wasn't upset with me, and even seemed inclined to write a letter of recommendation etc. Thus, after that conversation, I decided to email the professor to apologize and mentioned having GAD, but because of the Dean's reassurances, I also included a lor request. The professor, however, did not respond. (Including the lor request probably made my apology seem insincere, and the letter looked more like an attempt at excusing poor work than a sincere apology). I then went to every level of administration, explaining that I had written to the chair during an acute mental health episode and wanted the grievance dismissed (and the chance to sincerely apologize to the prof.) but no one would reach out to her. Instead, I was told that "she was not obligated to respond to me but that I shouldn't take her lack of response as a sign of "ill will." Long story short, after continuously trying to have the grievance dismissed, the university sent me a cease and desist letter, which seems to be functioning as a no contact order, as it prohibits me from communicating with anyone except the General Counsel's office.
Ordinarily, I could understand a professor resenting a student who complained the department chair/dean, but my behavior was caused by a mental health condition, and I was genuinely remorseful and did everything I could to rectify the situation. So, I want to ask how you'd react if a student or former student (whom you previously liked) filed a complaint during an episode of mental illness and later tried to have it dismissed? Would you forgive them or cut contact with them? Even if you forgave them, would you write them a letter of recommendation if their work was good? (My apology is sincere but I sometimes worry that she didn't respond because she was unimpressed with my work.) Alternatively, are professors typically advised against communicating with a student who brings a complaint against them, even if they try to retract it (i.e. to avoid legal liability)?
*The professor was living out of state during this time, so I couldn't schedule a visit during office hours to discuss the project/the letter etc. Email was our only means of communication.