Background Information:

I am a doctoral student at a premier institute which is also a hospital. Most of the administrative positions are handled by professors who are also clinicians and researchers. Sad as it might be, there are a lot of things for which the bar is quite low. Three specific examples:

  • the cafeteria on campus has absolutely rock-bottom level of quality/hygiene standard
  • similar low standard when it comes to maintenance of washrooms etc.
  • impossibly poor standards of on-campus residences

These are usually taken care of by administrative staff but at the end of the day are under administrative control of one or the other faculty (honorary "in-charges"). Not only these set a very poor impression when we have visitors but it also lowers the morale of the research staff. Sustained exposure to such a pathetic environment impairs productivity and there is always a prevalent air of gloom among students on the campus. Somehow it seems that the administrators are not interested in remedying any such situation and things seem to have become worse in the recent years.


Is it potentially harmful* for students to send formal complaints to the administrators requesting action to be taken? In case the administrator does nothing, should it be sent higher up in the hierarchy? How should attention be brought to such things so that they are resolved?

*harmful in terms of being bullied by senior faculties in the future; having carrier plans blocked because the same faculties might be on your review committees, et al

What I have tried to do:

I have sent anonymous emails to which I have either not received any reply or else have received a reply explicitly asking me to disclose my identity. In either case, complaints have never been worked on. I have tried to speak to my advisor about this but he has never been encouraging about the idea of formally writing complaints because of similar concerns mentioned above.

closed as off-topic by JeffE, scaaahu, user3209815, Fábio Dias, Florian D'Souza Aug 29 '17 at 15:16

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "The answer to this question strongly depends on individual factors such as a certain person’s preferences, a given institution’s regulations, the exact contents of your work or your personal values. Thus only someone familiar can answer this question and it cannot be generalised to apply to others. (See this discussion for more info.)" – JeffE, scaaahu, user3209815, Fábio Dias, Florian D'Souza
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 3
    I don't think this is a question the Internet can answer for you. It depends on your particular institution's culture and the personalities of those in charge. We have no insight into that. – Nate Eldredge Aug 22 '17 at 22:56
  • 1
    Sorry to hear about your troubles though - I would suggest talking to someone local whom you feel you can trust. – Nate Eldredge Aug 23 '17 at 2:52
  • Potentially harmful? Yes, anything is potentially anything. – Kimball Aug 23 '17 at 7:41
  • Do the problems also influence patients at the hospital, or are their washrooms all clean and only the ones for staff or in the student residences are dirty? – Dirk Aug 23 '17 at 8:53
  • The maintenance is sort of just okay; there are no facilities as such: tissues, sanitary napkins, liquid soap (only solid non-disposable soap that everyone shares), etc. Since this is a government setup with extremely high load of patients (and where most of the patients are from poor socio-economic background) just basic cleanliness seems acceptable to the administrators. In comparison to other government hospitals, the standards might seem high (which is what tends to be a benchmark for the administrators); imagine the horror experienced by international visitors to research site though! – troubled_grad Aug 23 '17 at 10:36

Your best bet is to use safety in numbers: a single complaint won't lead to much of a response and may cause some friction for you in the future.

If you can organize a large number of students to complain, though, it may be possible to achieve much stronger results. Moreover, it is unlikely that the administration will be able to retaliate against a large group at the individual level. (You might not want to be perceived as the "ringleader" if you are worried about possible repercussions.)

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