September 24, 2016

Bullying and Discrimination at University of Leicester (UoL): Justice for maxcasu

My name is Max Casu; I was a mature Ph.D. student at the UoL.
 
Unfortunately all my excitements about the above Ph.D. turned into a nightmare;
 
·  It was since the beginning of my academic course that I was continuously insulted, humiliated and treated at lower standards respect other students from senior academic members at the UoL.
·  During my Ph.D. I was able to generate 4 manuscripts and consequently 4 potential publications. Only 1 manuscript was published, with an extremely and unjustified severe delay (the manuscript was ready to be published in the 2010 but it was published only 3 years later). The UoL failed to substantiate what caused the failures of my publications.
 
·  I was accused by Dr Flaviano Giorgini (Former Supervisor) that I was constantly missing my academic meetings. Actually, many pieces of evidence prove completely the opposite, it was Dr Flaviano Giorgini (Former Supervisor) persistently postponing the meetings or inviting me to take part in meetings decided at the very last minute. Dr Flaviano Giorgini (Former Supervisor) was actually postponing group meetings because other students were not able to attend, and they were always being justified by their absence.
 
·  I was obstructed and not supported, applying for post-doc positions or any further higher education academic courses. Dr Flaviano Giorgini (Former Supervisor) provided me in a deliberately way a “bland letter of reference“, he was incited acting in this way by Prof Julian Ketley (Head of genetics dep.). It caused me being rejected for an important Legal post-graduate academic course at London South Bank University (LSBU).
 
·  Dr Flaviano Giorgini (Former Supervisor) failed to provide me with the adequate support during the writing of my Thesis and the preparation of my Viva Voce. Dr Flaviano Giorgini (Former Supervisor) admitted his failures. As a result, I struggled with large distress during the writing of my Thesis and the preparation of my Viva Voce, it caused me the inevitable loss of enjoyment and it inexorably undermined my health causing me a series of severe faintness that affected my Ph.D. and the temporary suspension of it.
 
·  The UoL removed Dr Flaviano Giorgini (Former Supervisor) and replaced him with 2 new supervisors, but this remedy was unfortunately applied at very late stages when my Thesis was already submitted and my Viva Voce was already performed.
 
·  During my Ph.D., the UoL provided faulty equipment. A homemade software called “BeFly!” lacking of registration licence and consequently in breach of the UoLs policies. The homemade software BeFly! was never be subjected for its accuracy and reliability. It caused me the removing of a large amount of data already analysed, generating me severe stress and frustration. Dr Flaviano Giorgini (Former Supervisor) and Prof Julian Ketley (Head of genetics dep.) suggested me to remove the data already analysed. Dr Flaviano Giorgini (Former Supervisor) and Dr Ezio Rosato (Internal Examiner) later admitted that the software BeFly! was mistaken.
 
·  I was accused by Dr Flaviano Giorgini (Former Supervisor) that; I blamed other students of disrupting my work and my experiments. On many occasions, I invited the UoL and particularly Dr Flaviano Giorgini (Former Supervisor) to substantiate these accusations. The UoL, unfortunately, failed to do so. These accusations were forwarded to me only during the procedures of my internal complaint, a clear action of victimisation.
 
·  There is a lot of severe failures during the complaint procedures. The UoL did not respect the internal protocol of the complaint and the appealing procedures, being responsible for irregular procedures; it again generated me a lot of distress. The UoL denied the possibility of a prima facie case.
 
·  The UoL failed to provide my personal files (data subject request access) on the standard time in respect of the Data Protection Act 1998. I received my files after 4 months respect the approved time-scale.
 
·  The UoL prior to my Viva Voce decided to appoint a chair without to inform me and without to substantiate why this decision was taken.
 
·  After having successfully performed the Viva Voce, I was notified that I passed my Viva Voce but also I was notified that I failed my Thesis. The UoL failed to substantiate which potential failures caused the failure of my Thesis. The UoL provided an academic report being very vague and elusive and did not inform me about the potential errors involved on my Thesis. The UoL sustained during my appealing procedure that; “it was not fundamental to know the exact errors involved in my Thesis”. Most of the specific errors listed in the academic report could not be found in my Thesis. The academic report deferred completely from the corrections provided by Dr Kevin Moffat (External ExaminerUniversity of Warwick) that actually showed a list of minor corrections that were amended in less than two weeks. The UoL failed to inform me about my rights of appeal. There is a large amount of internal e-mails from Prof Julian Ketley (Head of genetics dep.) and other senior members of the UoL, which showed how the UoL premeditated the failure of my Ph.D.
 
·  Despite having performed well during my academic course, and even done better respect many others Ph.D. students, despite having generated 4 potential publications and having successfully passed my exams, the UoL rejected my Ph.D. The UoL failed to justify why I failed my Thesis.

·  Accordingly, the UoL appointed a chair in order to prevent me appealing against their decision. The above shows a clear evidence of conspiracy, bias, and prejudice against me.
 
·  The UoL convening appointing 2 new supervisors but it was done after the completion of the writing of my Thesis, the submission of it and the preparation of my Viva Voce.
 
·  According to the UoL‘s policies, I should have had 2 supervisors since the beginning of my Ph.D.
 
·  There are a lot of severe failures during the academic appealing procedures.
 
·  The UoL was constantly breaching their own policies, the QAA code of conduct and the related Law. The UoL was repeatedly invited to investigate the above and put a remedy as it was actually expected.
 
·  The UoL neglected completely the severity of the events occurred, increasing my stress and frustration that ultimately affected my health severely with a series of severe faintness.
 
·  My complaint was forwarded to the OIA.
 
·  The OIA did not consider my complaint appropriately, and despite having provided tangible evidence of the episodes occurred my complaint was classified being “NOT JUSTIFIED“. Consequently, the OIA failed taking action against the UoL. The OIA actually awkwardly attempted to justify and legitimate the awful and malicious behaviour of the UoL and its senior members.
 
·  The case was referred to the Administrative Court for a judicial review against the OIA. The Administrative Court close my case without providing me the possibility having a fair hearing, stating that my case was “TOTALLY WITHOUT MERIT” and without to have the possibility to challenge this decision.
 
For more detailed please visit the following web site clicking to the following link; my case.
  

September 13, 2016

Justice 4 Max Casu

"...My name is Max Casu. I was a mature Ph.D. student at the UoL. I made a Ph.D. application in the department of neurogenetics at the above University in December 2007. I was invited for an interview in February 2008. I was classified second among 20 candidates; therefore, I was successful for the 2 vacant Ph.D.’s positions.

I began my Ph.D. in September 2008. I was a home Student. My Ph.D. course was based on a 4 years academic course; it was structured in three years lab work and the fourth and last year in the writing of my Thesis. My Ph.D. course was entirely sponsored by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The BBSRC covered the cost of the academic post-graduate course for the first 3 years. The Ph.D. was arranged with the first year being an APG (advanced post-graduate).

In July 2009, I was validated into my Ph.D. after having completed the APG. Prior to my Ph.D., I successfully obtained a HNC in applied biology and a BSc (Hons) in Pharmacology in two different London’s Universities, obtaining the grades of merit and a 2:1 (closely first class) respectively. I always loved science and everything that was concerned about it, and I was always classified to be an excellent student and respectable person from my previous Universities. I was extremely excited starting this new challenging experience at UoL.

My Ph.D. was based on the study of Huntington’s disease using fruit flies as an animal model. I was allocated since the beginning of my Ph.D. with 1 supervisor; Dr Flaviano Giorgini. The Vice-Chancellor, at the time, was Professor Robert Burgess. From the 1 October 2014, the UoL appointed a new Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Boyle, my case, unfortunately, was completely ignored by both. Despite having contacted on more occasions the Leicester Students’ Union I never received any support.

As mentioned earlier all my excitement about the above Ph.D. unfortunately, turned into a nightmare; It was since the beginning of my academic course that I was continuously insulted, humiliated and treated at lower standards respect other students from senior academic members at the UoL. During my Ph.D. I was able to generate 4 manuscripts and consequently 4 potential publications. Only 1 manuscript was published, with an extremely and unjustified severe delay (the manuscript was ready to be published in the 2010 but it was published only 3 years later).

The UoL failed to substantiate what caused the failures of my publications. I was accused by Dr Flaviano Giorgini (Former Supervisor) that I was constantly missing my academic meetings. Actually, many pieces of evidence prove completely the opposite, it was Dr Flaviano Giorgini (Former Supervisor) persistently postponing the meetings or inviting me to take part in meetings decided at the very last minute.

Dr Flaviano Giorgini (Former Supervisor) was actually postponing group meetings because other students were not able to attend, and they were always being justified by their absence. I was obstructed and not supported, applying for post-doc positions or any further higher education academic courses.

Dr Flaviano Giorgini (Former Supervisor) provided me in a deliberately way a “bland letter of reference“, he was incited acting in this way by Prof Julian Ketley (Head of genetics dep.). It caused me being rejected for an important Legal post-graduate academic course at London South Bank University (LSBU).

Dr Flaviano Giorgini (Former Supervisor) failed to provide me with the adequate support during the writing of my Thesis and the preparation of my Viva Voce. Dr Flaviano Giorgini (Former Supervisor) admitted his failures. As a result, I struggled with large distress during the writing of my Thesis and the preparation of my Viva Voce, it caused me the inevitable loss of enjoyment and it inexorably undermined my health causing me a series of severe faintness that affected my Ph.D. and the temporary suspension of it.

The UoL removed Dr Flaviano Giorgini (Former Supervisor) and replaced him with 2 new supervisors, but this remedy was unfortunately applied at very late stages when my Thesis was already submitted and my Viva Voce was already performed. During my Ph.D., the UoL provided faulty equipment. A homemade software called “BeFly!” lacking of registration licence and consequently in breach of the UoL’s policies. The homemade software BeFly! was never be subjected for its accuracy and reliability. It caused me the removing of a large amount of data already analysed, generating me severe stress and frustration.

Dr Flaviano Giorgini (Former Supervisor) and Prof Julian Ketley (Head of genetics dep.) suggested me to remove the data already analysed. Dr Flaviano Giorgini (Former Supervisor) and Dr Ezio Rosato (Internal Examiner) later admitted that the software BeFly! was mistaken. I was accused by Dr Flaviano Giorgini (Former Supervisor) that; I blamed other students of disrupting my work and my experiments.

On many occasions, I invited the UoL and particularly Dr Flaviano Giorgini (Former Supervisor) to substantiate these accusations. The UoL, unfortunately, failed to do so. These accusations were forwarded to me only during the procedures of my internal complaint, a clear action of victimisation. There is a lot of severe failures during the complaint procedures. The UoL did not respect the internal protocol of the complaint and the appealing procedures, being responsible for irregular procedures; it again generated me a lot of distress.

The UoL denied the possibility of a prima facie case. The UoL failed to provide my personal files (data subject request access) on the standard time in respect of the Data Protection Act 1998. I received my files after 4 months respect the approved time-scale. The UoL prior to my Viva Voce decided to appoint a chair without to inform me and without to substantiate why this decision was taken. After having successfully performed the Viva Voce, I was notified that I passed my Viva Voce but also I was notified that I failed my Thesis.

The UoL failed to substantiate which potential failures caused the failure of my Thesis. The UoL provided an academic report being very vague and elusive and did not inform me about the potential errors involved on my Thesis. The UoL sustained during my appealing procedure that; “it was not fundamental to know the exact errors involved in my Thesis”. Most of the specific errors listed in the academic report could not be found in my Thesis.

The academic report deferred completely from the corrections provided by Dr Kevin Moffat (External Examiner–University of Warwick) that actually showed a list of minor corrections that were amended in less than two weeks. The UoL failed to inform me about my rights of appeal. There is a large amount of internal e-mails from Prof Julian Ketley (Head of genetics dep.) and other senior members of the UoL, which showed how the UoL premeditated the failure of my Ph.D..."

More at: https://justice4maxcasu.wordpress.com/

September 04, 2016

Academic Tribalism

When I was a younger scholar, a very famous cognitive psychologist came to my office to visit me during his colloquium trip to my university. I mentioned with pride that I had just written a new textbook in cognitive psychology. His quick response was, “Bob, you’re not a cognitive psychologist anymore.”

I was deeply hurt. I had been trained in cognitive psychology by some of the top scholars in the field and always had thought of myself as their protégé. True, I had strayed and done some research on love. What I did not realize was that this straying from the tried and true path would lead to my expulsion from my academic tribe. Like many academics, I always had been a tribal outcast in the public schools because of my interest in intellectual pursuits. Here I had finally found a tribe that would have me, and they seemed not to want me anymore!

I use the term “tribe” to refer to a group of people who are united by customs, tradition, and adherence to a largely common worldview. Others have viewed academics as tribal. Hazard Adams wrote a lighthearted book about tribalism among academics. Tony Becher and Paul Trowler wrote a serious academic work about it. As those works point out, academics often think and act in a tribal manner, although they might not perceive themselves that way. The problem with tribalism is that it interferes with the academic mission.

Limiting of self-actualization. Tribalism limits the realization of one’s own potential by limiting the scope of problems one allows oneself to pursue. For example, as long as I viewed myself as a strict “cognitive psychologist,” I was limited in what I could study. Once I freed myself of my tribal affiliation, I could study whatever I wanted to. And I did!

Uniformity of point of view. A widely shared point of view can lead to an inability or unwillingness to consider other perspectives. South Sudan no sooner declared independence from the rest of Sudan than tribes within the new country, the Nuer, Murle, and Dinka, starting fighting among one another. In academe, tribes form within and across disciplines, and have trouble seeing why anyone would see things another way. In psychology, scientists and practitioners often have trouble speaking with one another because of their adherence to their own point of view, emphasizing either scientific inquiry or helping clients. In some English departments, there is a similar tension between traditional literary scholars and creative writers. In each case, particular approaches come to be seen, falsely, as mutually exclusive.

Distrust of outsiders. When I visited an American Indian reservation in which two mutually hostile tribes had been placed together by the American government, I was struck by the two tribes’ distrust of each other, even though they had lived on the same reservation for many years. We see that kind of tribalism in academics’ tendency to disparage those who think differently: scientists’ suspicions about humanists and vice versa; academic departments’ suspicion about the athletic department and vice versa. Even different tribes within a department can be wary of one another, such as zoologists and botanists in some biology departments. Instead of perceiving certain approaches to be complementary, a not-so-hidden disdain and sense of rejection often prevail.

Hiring and promotion wars. When multiple tribes coexist within a department, they often battle for resources. In my administrative experience, I have seen hiring and promotion wars between tribes that make it difficult for either side to get its way: between French and Spanish factions of modern-language departments; between theoretical and experimental physicists; and between quantitative and qualitative methodologists in sociology. Even graduate-student slots may be bitterly contested. The result can be that a department is held back because each tribe is so intent on making sure that it, not its competition, gets additional slots.

Rejection of interdisciplinarity. Perhaps even worse than being a member of another tribe can be a scholar’s attempt to be a member of multiple tribes. I saw junior faculty members try, without success, to stay out of a war in a philosophy department between Continental rationalists and British empiricists—they were almost forced to choose sides. I also have seen scholars who engage in interdisciplinary work being rejected by both disciplines because the academics are seen as good for only half the slot they are occupying, thereby “wasting” the other valuable half-slot. Academics may end up praising interdisciplinarity as long as it does not take away valuable positions from their tribe.

Transmission of a tribal value system to students. I took a course on abnormal psychology from a behaviorist. The engaging professor had little good to say about Freudians. I had trouble, as I suspect other students did, separating out the professor’s tribal viewpoint from “the truth.” Similarly, in one of my analytical philosophy courses, the professor regularly disparaged rationalist philosophers. When tribalism passes from one generation of students to the next, it continues to reinforce strongly categorical ways of thinking that prevent students from seeing how different approaches to problems can be useful in tandem or even when melded.

Tribalism does little good for academe other than giving academics a sense of belonging and affiliation. We all like to belong, but academics need to embrace intellectual inclusion rather than exclusionary ways of thinking.


Robert J. Sternberg is a professor of human development at Cornell University. He is a former president of the American Psychological Association and of the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences. He also has been a university dean, provost, and president.

http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/conversation/2014/02/26/academic-tribalism/

August 21, 2016

Without values the academy risks anarchy...


"...This ‘me first’ approach is also not helped by academia’s demanding working conditions. In labs an entrenched hierarchy prevails which determines whose agenda dominates the work flow and whose name takes precedence on publications, whilst for more independent researchers, long hours spent in isolation in libraries or archives can take its toll on basic social capabilities and interactions.

While the realities of the academic environment do not excuse individuals from displaying discriminatory or anti-social behaviour towards others, they go some way to explaining why some academics do not see anything untoward about their own uncouth conduct, or why they are attuned to thinking about themselves and their own gain first. When it comes down to it, the system in which they work has come to facilitate narcissistic and egotistical behaviour, if not even demand it.

In this context, putting an emphasis back on the original values of a university could do much to quell the rise of bullying and discrimination. Allowing the market-driven model to dominate the higher education sector for so long has only created a vacuum of values in the way the academic system operates, removing a university’s in-built system of moral checks and balances that might otherwise serve to keep its staff on the straight and narrow.

The ivory tower has lost sight of its primary, foundational function – namely, to nurture the flourishing of the human spirit for the benefit of wider society. When community values were at the core of the academy, its outputs were beneficial to civil society and its workforce adhered to the principles of partnership, equality and fairness. With these values now replaced by the pursuit of profit and fame, is it any wonder that the new academic arena has become a breeding ground for bullies?

If the ivory tower is to retain its image of an idyllic place to work, then, it would not go far wrong in revisiting the common and societal-based values that once shaped its past. Without these values, the academy has no value to anything other than itself. And without these values, the academy may as well prepare for anarchy now..."

Dr Diana Beech is a research consultant at the Research Information Network and a research associate at St Edmund’s College, Cambridge, where she currently manages a project exploring the role and relevance of values to contemporary European research policy. Beech is also an active member of the EURAXESS ‘Voice of the Researchers’ network, providing researchers with a channel to influence policy in the European Research Area.

July 30, 2016

Bullying in Academia Up Close and Personal: My Story

ABSTRACT
This paper is a personal account of being mobbed and bullied over the past four and half years. This whole experience began on October 26th 2009, with what the literature describes as the Critical Incident. Despite the fact that the assessment instrument had not been published, and accompanying medical documentation provided a context for what had occurred, people decided to ignore this information and utilized this incident to demonstrate that what the author had done was unethical and required swift retribution by the University. However, following an administrative review, it was determined that the author had not committed this alleged offence. Certain individuals were appalled and refused to abide by this decision. The outcome was that over the next four and half years the author was subjected to many of the experiences that Leymann, Davenport, Schwartz and Elliot, Friedenberg, Khoo, and Westhues describe in typologies of bullying and mobbing. The most serious consequence was that on July 23rd 2012 the author suffered an Ischemic stroke. Not only was the author’s medical health compromised during this experience; this experience had a devastating impact on his emotional well-being, career and professional development. Within the School of Social Work, I was unable to receive peer support, administrative acknowledgement or empathy regarding the impact that this illness had regarding my well-being. What was even more troubling was the University’s unwillingness to confront the bullying and mobbing. Instead, with no resolution the school leadership continues to hold onto earlier accusations and through communications and interactions blame the victim.

Key words: mobbing, bullying, mental health consequences, physical health repercussions, personal and professional ramifications, critical incident method

Full paper 

July 19, 2016

1,577 Turkish university deans told to leave...



ISTANBUL (AP) -- The Latest on the attempted military coup in Turkey (all times local):

5:20 p.m.

State-run Anadolu news agency reports that Turkey's Board of Higher Education has requested the resignations of 1,577 university deans, effectively dismissing them.

Tuesday's announcement comes right on the heels of an announcement by the Ministry of National Education that it has dismissed 15,200 personnel over their alleged involvement with a group the government claims is responsible for Friday's failed coup.

Of the deans dismissed, 1,176 worked in public universities and 401 in private institutions.
Sweeping purges in the aftermath of the thwarted coup has seen the dismissal of thousands from the judiciary, police force, military and bureaucracy.

---
5 p.m.

The state-run Anadolu news agency reports that Turkey's ministry of education has sacked 15,200 personnel for alleged involvement with a group the government claims is responsible for Friday's failed coup.

The National Education Ministry said Tuesday that the staff are in both urban and rural establishments, and that an investigation has been launched against them.

The government accuses U.S.-based cleric Fetullah Gulen of plotting the coup and wants him extradited.

Sweeping purges in the aftermath of the coup have seen the dismissal of thousands from the judiciary, police force, military, administrative and religious affairs departments.

From: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/E/EU_TURKEY_MILITARY_COUP_THE_LATEST?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

July 04, 2016

Breach of contractual disciplinary procedure may lead to significant loss of earnings claims


“…This case will be most relevant to those employers who currently have disciplinary procedures which are incorporated into their employees’ contracts of employment. Up until now, an employer who fails to follow the disciplinary procedure correctly would face claims for wrongful dismissal (i.e. breach of notice period), failure to follow disciplinary procedure (loss of salary over the period in which the disciplinary procedure should have been followed) and unfair dismissal (subject to the statutory cap). This case opens the door to possible claims for damages going far beyond the loss of earnings damages, which can currently be claimed for breach of contract on termination of employment. It should of course be remembered that Mr Edwards was not awarded damages to cover his losses in salary to retirement, but merely that the Court indicated that this may be a possibility, depending on the evidence provided. An employee in this position would of course be subject to the duty to mitigate his loss by finding suitable alternative employment, but for employees who are employed in an industry or occupation where there is in effect only one employer, such as the NHS, and where it may be impossible to obtain employment elsewhere once reputation has been damaged, this case should certainly be ringing alarm bells…”


In the meanwhile, we would argue that academia is indeed one of those professions where it is hard to find suitable alternative employment for once a case has become public the academic is more than likely never to be employed again in this profession.

June 26, 2016

It’s Time to Have a Conversation About Bullying and Mobbing

Free Virtual Conference runs from Mon.-Thurs., June 27-30, 2016 

It’s Time to Have a Conversation About Bullying and Mobbing Register Confidentially. 
Your Name Will be Kept Private -Never Shared.

Listen in as I interview eight, experts on bullying and mobbing, and also 5 academics who were victims of bullying and mobbing who will tell their stories. There will be a wealth of information for any academic from graduate student to Provost.

Listen to interviews with authorities who know the academic experience inside out, researchers who have zeroed in on this subject, and many who have been the victim of bullying themselves.

We will also hear from five brave interviewees who experienced bullying, who will hold nothing back in describing their experiences. They’ll describe how the bullying started, what it felt like, how they tried to deal with it, and what the ultimate result was for them, for their department and for their future.
More info at:

June 21, 2016

The end of my teaching career...

My fourteen years as a community college professor have come to an untimely, unnatural demise. My administrators (including my supposed colleague, a full-time department chair) have orchestrated my removal from the teaching schedule. In the most recent round of abuse, my chair failed to offer me any courses for the fall term.  When I approached the dean, I was told that three successive offers were made to me to teach a class, and they did not hear from me and offered the class to another teacher. This is obfuscation. I sent three letters to my chair, and one was sent by a division secretary, inquiring of the status of my teaching a class for the upcoming Fall 2016 term, and he never replied. The plausibility of not receiving three e-mails, and not receiving a response to three queries?  I was told cheerfully by the dean that if another class opens, I will be the first considered to teach it.  This is not likely during budget cuts.

...At first, my labor union (comprised at any given point of almost all full-time teachers and one complicit part-timer) assisted me, but in the end supported the decisions of the deans and my
full-time chairs. My dean deliberately used my medical disability and the failing health (and eventual death) of my elder mother to "schedule me" out of my teaching rehire rights. 

In the U.S. there is an organization called the National Labor Relations Board which governs employee rights under federal laws.  The NLRB states that it is unlawful to compel a worker to be in the same union as his supervisor.  Even so, labor unions in higher education compel non tenured faculty (contingent/part-time/adjunct) to be in the same union as their department chairs who are most often full-time, tenured faculty who serve as de facto administrators and administrator designees. As such, as pointed out in the paper by Berg, the precarious status of the non-tenured professor makes him a prime target for anxiety-producing emotional abuse. In my case, at least two full-time professors who were union presidents (both department chairs) became division deans; in another instance, a full-time union grievance officer left his position as a union officer and professor
to take a position as an interim Director of Personnel with his sights on the Vice Presidency of Personnel. (He did not get the position and was forced to return to being a mere tenured professor and union officer. The Vice Presidency went to a man outside of the college, and the directorship was given to the new VPs girlfriend.)

My district superintendent wrote her doctoral dissertation on the use of workplace bullying (inducing fear) is used as a managerial tool. The dissertation delineates the step-by-step techniques and the steps to induce fear in faculty and eventual cause their removal or resignation. The dissertation states verbatim that a professor can be scared "shitless" through the use of these tools which she describes as like "spousal or sexual abuse." Although the dissertation condemns the use of bullying, it is clear that there is an unsaid approval of the techniques as they are evident in almost all cases of bullying in some form, and my experiences match the strategies in the dissertation one-for-one.

In short, it describes how to separate, marginalize and eliminate faculty who are not servile and complacent in the "erode, isolate, separate" strategy. This explains what the Asian professor in your blog was singled out, and why my district is currently facing, according to a full-time colleague, "22 or 23" complaints of unlawful discrimination. It is titled, "Realigning: A grounded theory of academic workplace conflict," by Melinda Nish in 2011.

It is fortunate for me that I do not rely solely on my part-time teaching income, and I have other sources of livelihood. Other professors must teach or a living and are therefore more prone to anxiety from unscrupulous colleagues and administrators. Still the loss of my livelihood has been heartbreaking, as I will no longer be teaching. This alone deserves mourning.

I am sad to report that not only vulnerable part-timers are victims of campaigns of bullying. A full-timer, a former union president no less, is now under attack by the college and the new union officers. This professor was very ethical, and upheld the rights and sense of justice for all employees. She now comes under attack in the support of cronyism cloaked under the guise of unlawful discrimination. For irony, the accuser made allegations against her of racial prejudice once publicly stated-- in order to ingratiate himself to his employers--that no racial prejudice exists in the college. He now states that prejudice indeed does exist.

This flip-flopping in what is said and what is done is very characteristic of the bullying as described in the dissertation. It is typical that a bully (the college administration) and his cronies will use any means (betrayal and backstabbing) in order to meet its ends.

I have only two advocates who will be talking to my dean about my loss of status: one administrator and one former union president, the ethical professor. 

In March, the dean who robbed me of my livelihood (I have lost more than $40,000 USD in potential income), colluded with the chair who wanted to hire her friends, and deprived me of the joy of my profession is no longer with the district. Evidently she has hired an attorney that I could not myself afford, one who has a proven track record of winning large settlements against the college.

Anonymous

June 20, 2016

My Experience With Contrapower Harassment in a Community College Setting

I’ve been teaching at a local community college for over 10 years. It’s a generally good campus with a diverse student population and I always planned on retiring from this campus.

One issue I’ve dealt with since I started was challenging students- and the behaviors are escalating. I’m a younger, very petite female. I have a high voice and like to wear nerdy science shirts and jewelry. But I run my classroom with strict standards of behavior and academic integrity. I teach an Allied Health pre-requisite class and am the coordinator of all the sections of my subject. I take my role as the lead instructor seriously and maintain high standards and a pretty “no-nonsense” attitude.

For the longest time I figured the (primarily) male students who challenge my authority in classroom, the snide comments, and online anonymous hate comments from “Rate My Professor” were just the cost of being a teacher in college. Sometimes I would even write it off as a cultural issue due to our diverse student population because many of my male students come from patriarchal cultures. The level of disrespect has been one I thought I SHOULD tolerate- it never kept me up at night, I never had anyone physically threaten, so I didn’t worry. (Notice how I just accepted the harassment and never even considered that it was a problem? I continually ask myself now where that attitude came from.)

Last year I had one student who I nicknamed to my friends as “ugh, the Thorn in My Side” (due to confidentiality we do not use any identifying features about students- even when venting to non-teacher friends). He walked in with an air of indifference. He challenged my comments in class. He did not work with a study group in lab. His lab questions were always along the line of “Why do I have to do it this way?” I just figured he was a difficult student and that once he finished my class he’d go away. He often left lab early, and I would breathe a sigh of relief because I could teach without worry of challenge again during open lab time.

As the semester progressed two issues arose, that I didn’t document because I didn’t know better: the student was not passing and the student’s passive-aggressive attitude escalated. He would show to office hours, which I held in my tutoring center, and be extremely unpleasant to me and my tutors (in retrospect…only my female tutors reported problems with him). It got to the point that I dreaded my office hours. I made them by appointment only. I didn’t tell anyone why. I figured that as long as I kept up my office hours that I was OK, and really the only student coming in with “questions” (i.e., complaints about my teaching, content, rigor) was this one male. His comments were often challenges to my grading because I have a strict spelling policy and state “if I cannot read your writing I cannot assign you credit”.

Near the end of the semester I offered a replacement final exam to help students boost scores. The rules were clear: sign up to take the exam. The student did not sign up, but sent me a rude, challenging e-mail stating that he wanted to take the test. When I reiterated my policy I finally thought “Eh, I should contact my department chair. This student has caused me a lot of trouble”. After the stress this student had put me through I figured a heads up e-mail would be enough to keep me covered in case he complained to the chair.

The guidelines in my syllabus, which follow school procedures, are that students who have grade complaints try to resolve the issue with me first (with a witness in the meeting), then go up the chain of command (department chair, Dean, etc.). If a student has an issue other than grades the student contacts the Dean of Student Affairs.

I found out that the student wrote every member of our Governing Board and the Chancellor. His letter was full of veiled threats against me and the school that were clearly written to intimidate us and bully me into submission for changing his grade. Because the threats were basically public relations types of issues, nothing to assume physical attacks or property damage, the student was referred to administration.

Administration failed to follow the guidelines set forth in the syllabus and student code of conduct. The Dean and Vice President met with the student. They did not notify the department chair. I was then queried, several times, via e-mail and in person by the Dean regarding my class and its policies. I supplied all of my documentation in the class. I supplied my syllabus and asked if the student had been referred back to me per my syllabus policy. I never got answers to that question.

For the next 6 weeks I kept getting e-mails about this student. The VP and President got involved to meet with the student (at least twice that I know of). I was never contacted by either of those administrators. I felt that I had to prove myself to these people, and that they had no vested interest in defending me as a faculty member. None of the administrators involved are experts in Allied Health. The only one who has ever seen me instruct is the Dean- who assigns me top marks in my peer evaluation. I have some of the highest student evaluation scores that I know of from talking with colleague- despite my reputation for rigor. None of this was ever discussed. The Dean, instead, looked up my attrition rates and said they “weren’t great”. He told me in person that if this were for another subject- math or physics- my attrition rates would not be so bad. I felt as if my entire reputation was being set by this one complaint that was handled out of due process and without any personal involvement by me. And I was told be the Dean that at the end of each meeting the student’s query was the same – could I be forced to change his grade to passing?

I started to feel sad. I cried a lot, wasn’t sleeping, and wasn’t eating. I know my teaching suffered. I was more terse with my students and didn’t have the energy to run my classroom with the same enthusiasm as I normally would. I remember going out to a Halloween event and just leaking tears in the car the whole way, then being thankful we were in a dark environment because I just cried all evening.

I started having panic attacks and canceled some classes. This, of course, made things worse because I was already feeling like a bad teacher and then I felt like I was failing even more. I wrote a resignation letter and started looking into admissions criteria for a DPT program. I told my husband that I had to get out.

Every time my campus e-mail pinged on my computer my heart would race and my stomach would ache. I was just waiting for another e-mail asking me to document my professional worth against this single student. (To this day I have not heard personally from the administration, except the Dean, regarding this issue. I have been in meetings with them both, and feel bad about myself. I feel that they will never hold me in respect over this incident. When I have spoken in meetings with them I honestly feel that they are not listening to my comments.)

I sought professional help. My therapist diagnosed me with adjustment disorder (situational depression) and anxiety. I went on beta blockers to help me deal with the elevated blood pressure and tachycardia that seemed to affect me all the time. My therapist asked who else on campus I had spoken with. “No one,” I answered. She stated that my case seemed to be one of contrapower harassment and encouraged me to speak out. I had never heard of contrapower harassment and so I started becoming an internet junky for the topic.

I contacted my department chair. The department chair was livid that I had been treated this way. The department chair told me I should have come forward sooner, that I would have been supported from the beginning. I didn’t expect that. I felt so much stress and shame that I could not handle this problem on my own, and I felt powerless because the head administrators in the school have been dismissive of me.

My department chair contacted our union. They also advised me speak with the Dean of Student Affairs because I did say I felt harassed. When I spoke with the Dean and explained the situation the Dean said there was really nothing that could be done. The Dean said the student was being mean and must have been aware of what he was doing, but that really he had not broken any rules in the Student Code of Conduct! When I pointed out the student had not passed my class and that he might retake (I was concerned he would do it out of spite) I was told my only recourse was to switch sections if I saw him on my rosters. Where is my protection in this situation? That is how it stands at our school today- if a teacher feels harassed by a student (that is not physical or sexual) then all the teacher can do is be vigilant on the roster and surreptitiously switch the teaching assignment to avoid the student.

I don’t know what our union representatives did or said, but eventually the e-mails stopped. My last e-mail was a forwarded response from the Dean. The President wrote the student with a “final” response to his complaints and basically apologized to the student for his experience in my classroom.

I know the student is still on campus. I saw him walking across the quad last semester. I almost had a panic attack and turned immediately to walk the other way. It’s all I can do.


There are some lingering effects… I don’t trust my administration. My heart still jumps a little when my work e-mail comes in. I worry that this student will be allowed to haunt me for a very long time. And the resignation letter, with this brief summary of the hell I went through for 3 months, sit in a folder on my desktop.

Anonymous