Letter to the Editor: Jennifer Dibbern’s claims are factually inaccurate


Published February 9, 2012

My name is Eric Zech, and I’m a GSRA working in Engineering Prof. Rachel Goldman’s research group at the University. I am writing this letter in response to the current issue regarding Jennifer Dibbern and her claim that she was wrongfully terminated from her position as a GSRA based on unionization efforts.

I began working as a student for my Ph.D. in January 2011. I worked directly with Dibbern in the same research group and laboratory. For the first few months, Dibbern was actually the student responsible for training me on equipment. Having worked with her for the first eight months of my program, I can confidently attest to the following:

1. Goldman has never intimidated her students, especially regarding unionization efforts.
2. Dibbern demonstrated a lack of commitment to her research (logging far fewer than the 60 hours she claims and often not showing up to lab or failing to respond to e-mails for a week at a time).
3. Dibbern was involved in other activities beside the Graduate Employees Organization, including the University's Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center.
4. Dibbern was unresponsive to e-mails from both me and Goldman, making a working relationship impossible.
5. Dibbern didn’t consistently receive positive feedback related to her research. She was repetitively encouraged to come in to the lab to work and missed multiple abstract submission deadlines (over a period of many months from March/April 2011 until the time Goldman was no longer acting as her supervisor in September 2011).
6. Dibbern didn’t achieve Ph.D. candidacy, even after being a student for more than four years. (Achieving Ph.D. candidacy typically takes two years.)
7. Dibbern received GSRA funding through December 2011, though she wasn’t actively working in a lab during that time.
8. Dibbern’s research award wasn’t based on scientific merit, but rather aesthetic appeal, and the submitted image was only used in the department calendar.

The allegations Ms. Dibbern is making against the University and Goldman are completely false and should not be passed along as fact. It’s wrong that she is making false claims and is gaining support from many people based on no factual evidence.

I am writing this letter on my own accord to help inform you of the facts, because I believe in standing up for the truth. Thank you for taking time to read this letter and I sincerely hope it helps shed truth on the situation.

Eric Zech
Graduate Student Research Assistant