IIT student’s Ph.D. will be withheld by Cornell due to Title IX complaint

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Yogesh Patil (Courtesy: http://ultracold.lassp.cornell.edu/)

A Cornell graduate student from India, Yogesh Patil, was to graduate with his Ph.D. from Cornell University on May 27, when the University notified him that his degree will be withheld because of a Title IX complaint against him, just three days prior.

According to The Cornell Daily Sun, Patil had been pursuing a Ph.D. in physics for seven years now and had just submitted his thesis and his family from India and Australia is currently en route to the university, for his graduation.

The complaint against Patil was filed by a former physics Ph.D. student who is using the pseudonym LA.

LA had previously accused Patil’s advisor Mukund Vengalattore, a physics professor, of sexual assault but has not accused Patil of sexual misconduct. She, however, is alleging that he retaliated against her for making a “good faith” sexual misconduct report against Vengalattore, according to the Title IX documents.

In the Title IX complaint, LA has said that Patil’s retaliation consisted in publishing content related to her complaint on a Google site though Patil denies of ever owning or operating such a website, in which LA says, it states: “Cornell has acted in bad-faith and against Prof. Vengalattore and his research group during a complicated tenure review process in which the professor was approved for tenure by his department, denied tenure by administration, deemed entitled to a fresh tenure review by a judge, denied tenure by his department in that fresh review and, most recently, deemed not entitled to a new tenure review by a New York State appeals court. The tenure review is relevant here because Vengalattore believes that unsubstantiated, untrue and bad faith allegations by LA unfairly soiled his chances at tenure.”

Details of such allegations have emerged on the Google site where LA claims that Vengalattore sexually assaulted her and had an inappropriate romantic relationship with her in 2010 and 2011.

Details of the investigation appeared in court documents, which was also published on the website and Vengalattore accused the University of treating him unfairly.

In an email, Vengalattore wrote:

“This student has made about 17 allegations against me ranging from allegations of plagiarism, to abuse, to assault, to ‘sexual harassment’ by omitting her middle initial in the author list of a paper. These complaints have been weaponized to deny my tenure, to harass my students, and most recently, to withhold Yogesh’s degree. So far, we have provided hundreds of pages of documented evidence that each of these complaints are frivolous and false.”

Vengalattore’s employment at Cornell University will end on June 30 while Patil’s case is still to be resolved before he can receive his degree or else be expelled.

Patil is a citizen of India and is in the U.S. on a student visa.

He told The Cornell Daily Sun that he is planning to sue Cornell for his degree, a lawsuit which could possibly amount to $50,000 to $75,000.

He has started a GoFundMe campaign in which he has raised over $5,700 of his goal of $75,000.

“I look forward to moving out of this poisonous environment with my hard-earned PhD, so that I may finally focus solely on the science,” he wrote on his GoFundMe Page.

According to his LinkedIn page, Patil holds a B.Tech with honors from the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay, and had published enough by June 2016 to receive his Ph.D. at the end of the summer this year.

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