David Aliaga (
29 Aug 1995 11:40:57 -0600


Esteemed Colleagues:

The purpose of this letter is to inform you of the very serious academic
problems I have experienced during my doctoral studies in Italy.

I am a citizen of Canada who graduated from the University of Calgary in
Alberta Canada in June of 1986. Soon after, I decided to continue my studies
at the University of Calabria, becoming the first Canadian ever to have
enrolled in a Dottorato di Ricerca program in Ethnoanthropology in Italy.

My Italian-born wife, children and I struggled to overcome enourmous
financial and emotional obstacles in order for me to complete my studies.
I received only eight months of financial grants, despite the earlier promise
of three years of assistance by Dott. Magno Clarizia, Il Capo Div. Aff. Gen
of the University of Calabria. Furthermore, I received virtually no training,
advice, or instructional support from my Italian academic supervisor Dott.
Luigi Lombardi Satriani. Nevertheless, I was able to succesfully complete all
the requirements for my Dottorato di Ricerca, which is equivalent to a
Canadian PhD.

My family and I had to leave Italy due to dire economic circumstances (fully
attested by a letter from our embassy in Rome) following the completition of
my studies. Before we left Italy I gave a letter to Dottssa. Scalera e
Dott. Di Lisio of the Office of the Dottorato di Ricerca at The Ministry of
Universities. In the letter I asked the ministry for an extension of a few
months of the deadline for submitting my final report (Relazione Finale),
this, due to all my difficulties in obtaining financial aid and our decision
to leave Italy.

I returned to Rome for an oral examination at the time and date designated
by the Office of the Dottorato di Ricerca. The entire examination committee
failed to appear on the scheduled date (July 25,1991). The oral examination
was subsequentely rescheduled due to my insistence for August 7,1991.
Immediately prior to my return to Italy I was notified via telegram from Dott.
Di Lisio that the original members of my commission had been replaced.
The new commitee members where not acquainted with my academic work and two
of them did not receive my final report on time due to the fact that the
Office of the Dottorato di Ricerca did not send me a notification in time
or with the addresses of the new commission members.

I remained optimistic about my ability to succesfully obtain my Doctoral
degree in spite of the many bureaucratic frustrations and wrong doings, for
I had received excellent evaluations of my academic work throughout my period
of study at the University of Calabria. Also, I had received an excellent
evaluation and praise of my final report by the President of the first
commission and very well known international anthropologist Professor Tullio
Tentori, who also happened to be the President of the Ethnoanthropological
Association of Italy at the time.

Unfortunatelly, I was later informed that I have been rejected as a candidate
for the title Dottore di Ricerca on the basis of the oral examination. I was
subsequently denied all rights to an appeal. To date I have not received any
explanation of why the commitee rejected my work. The members of the
commitee failed entirely to conduct an investigation or to explore the huge
discrepancy which exists between my university of Calabria oustanding
records, and their evaluation of the examination.

I have made repeated attempts to correspond with the Ministry of
Universities and Scientific and Technological Research, but my efforts to
rectify the situation have been without result. The massive bureaucratic
entanglements in Italy threathen to negate any possible resolution of my

My academic career is seriously jeopardized by my inability to appeal the
decision. My requests for an academic inquiry into my case have been
continually ignored by the honorable Minister of Universities Giorgio Salvini.
Commitee members: Signorelli Amalia, Universita di Napoli, Castelli Gattinara
Giancarlo, Universita di Chieti, e Atzeni Paola, Universita di Cagliari,
refuse to accept any measure of accountability for the unethical an inhumane
treatment to which I have been subjected. My attempts to negotiate the right
to an academic appeal will only be succesfull if other concerned scholars
join me in my efforts to challenge the decision taken by the Ministry of

There is growing public awarness about my situation. I am fortunate in that
many academic leaders, in Canada, USA, Italy, and Wales have written letters
of support on my behalf to both the Italian Minister of Universities and to
the Italian Ambassador to Canada. I have also received the support of many
important organizations such as the Canadian Anthropology Association, The
Canadian Archaeological Association, The American Anthropological Association
and the Association of Graduate Students at the University of Calgary.
Municipal, Provincial and Federal Politicians have also written to the
officials involved. I am currently accessing the media in order to demand
the attention of the Italian Minister and Italian academia about the
unfairness of the situation.

I am committed to the goal of initiating a change in the Italian Ministry's
policy to deny access to an appeal process. While I have only great admiration
and respect for the oustanding work of many Italian scholars and researchers,
I find myself forced to challenge the Ministry of Universities because of their examination procedures, which without an appeal process are unaccountable
and unjust. I hope to ensure that no other foreign student experiences the
frustrations and disappointment inherent in such an unfortunate circumstance.
I am convinced that I have the right to confront academic injustice, if only
to set a precedent from which others stand to benefit.

I am requesting your understanding as academic colleagues in my attempts to
challenge the decisions taken by the Ministry, which denies the basic
principle of any truly democratic process: accountability.

I believe that together we may force the Italian Ministry of Universities to
address my situation with more seriousness. I have documented all the
particulars with regard to my case, and I have an extensive file of letters
written by many supporters. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you
whish to be of some assistance in my quest for a resolution of my situation.

I thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

Dott. David E. Aliaga

PS: a) A full account plus letters of support can be found
at: URL:

b) If you decide to help me please send a copy of your
letter to: Dr. James Frideres, Associate Dean,
Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Calgary,
2500 University Dr. NW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada,
T2N 1N4, or Fax it to: 403-282-9298.