January 07, 2018

Harassment at Annual Meetings American Political Science Association

A "sizable" minority of women and a smaller but still notable share of men have experienced harassment or other inappropriate behavior at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, according to a survey of members that the association has just released.

A solid majority (63 percent) of the 2,424 members who responded to the survey indicated that they had never been harassed or treated inappropriately at the meeting. But the figures were different for men (74 percent) and women (51 percent).

Among the findings:
  • Forty-two percent of women and 22 percent of men said that they had been "put down" or "experienced condescension" at the meeting.
  • Thirty percent of women and 10 percent of men said that they had experienced "inappropriate language or looks, such as experiencing offensive sexist remarks; getting stared at, leered or ogled in a way that made them uncomfortable; or being exposed to sexist or suggestive materials which they found offensive."
  • Eleven percent of women and 3 percent of men reported having experienced "inappropriate sexual advances or touching, such as unwanted attempts to establish a sexual relationship despite efforts to discourage it, being touched by someone in a way that was uncomfortable, or experiencing bribes or threats associated with sexual advances."
The survey looked at specifics within that last item and found that the numbers of people reporting certain kinds of inappropriate behavior were low. But the report published by the association said the data should still be of concern.

"That 29 of our members felt they had experienced threats of professional retaliation for not being sexually cooperative, and 44 felt they were being bribed with special professional rewards is, respectively, 29 and 44 people too many," said the report, published in PS, an association journal. The report found no statistically significant differences in the results by race or ethnicity.

But the study found that nontenured faculty members experience more harassment or inappropriate behavior than do tenured faculty members, graduate students or postdocs...

More at: http://www.insidehighered.com/

December 26, 2017

Abusers and Enablers in Faculty Culture

...It’s easier to blame the victim than change the system. Abusers weaponize their own idiosyncrasies and parade them as high standards, shaming anyone who falls short. That often sets in motion a cycle of low self-esteem, late work, and less polished writing to prove that the accuser, not the abuser, must be problem.

The feeling of being unheard, untrusted, and not believed keeps the cycle spiraling further out of control. Too many of my clients feel guilt creep into their professional lives. Some can be quick to blame themselves. Others hesitate to turn down requests to give a talk or contribute to a journal, because they think they "owe" colleagues "favors" and will be criticized for not delivering. This is often the legacy of chronic, institutionalized abuse — of people breaking others rather than building up their confidence and helping them be successful colleagues.

If you find yourself saying, "Look, what he did was wrong, but really, her work isn’t that good, anyway," or, "If she were strong, like me, she would have stood up for herself," or, "If she didn’t have something to hide, she would have spoken out" — you are part of the problem...

From: https://www.chronicle.com/article/AbusersEnablers-in/241648

Bullies have no place in academia – even if they're star scientists

...My self-confidence, scientific progress and mental health were in decline from the beginning. My supervisor belittled me in front of my peers, derided me for enacting laboratory safety measures and denied me the technical training I needed to gain traction in a new scientific discipline. I recall silently sobbing as his large frame hulked over me, and how he gesticulated wildly as he yelled, “Just do what I tell you!”. That meeting lasted 90 minutes, the culmination of months of relentless bullying from he, the principal investigator on our research project.
I walked out of that meeting resolving that no one would treat me that way again. I wanted to complain to the university, so I sought to follow institutional policy, only to find that it didn’t exist. Human resources was completely ineffectual, lacking knowledge and training in conflict resolution, contractual negotiation and my legal entitlement to a safe workplace.

Desperate for help, I reached out to the university with which my institute was affiliated. I was told that it could not offer me support as I was not a member of university staff. Despite the existing arrangement – the institute posing as independent entity and university department, depending on which funding pool it wished to dip into – a political distinction had been drawn, and I was left on my own...

That supervisor followed a pattern of systematic abuse of predominantly female employees. The institute, its senior staff and the university were complicit by failing to provide adequate support to the victims, and for rewarding the supervisor with a position of power while continuing to recruit vulnerable staff to place in his care. No amount of scientific brilliance can excuse this behaviour.

Universities should have avenues for recourse against the perpetrators of harassment at all levels, which the victims can access without fear of reprisal, burden of proof or risk of personal or career injury to the vulnerable party.
I would also have appreciated more support from my institution for the mental health consequences of a bullying supervisor. Instead, I had to rely on my personal network – my partner, friends and family. Fortunately, I could afford the medical treatment I needed to return to wellness. But not everyone is so lucky...

From: https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2017/dec/15/bullies-have-no-place-in-academia-even-if-theyre-star-scientists

July 07, 2017

It is sad...

Academics are horrible to people that are more intelligent than they. I graduated at the top of my class and suffered the entire time. Post grad school I noticed they only hire and elevate people like themselves, or that are less intelligent than themselves (so they can feel superior to the new hire). Higher education has become the land of the imbecile. They pat themselves on the back for bad ideas that have lead to the dumped down, wrongly righteous, twisted-notioned-nation that we have today. Academia needs to change, they have been purporting the worst ideas for ages and now we have an entitled, non-critical-thinking pile of people that can only work in groups (which is rotten because the bossy bullies end up dictating the ideas) and that are too afraid to take a stand against ideas many of them know are lame or childish. It is sad how low higher education has become.


The University of Manchester...

The University of Manchester has terrible bullying problems. It is not just the academics, support staff have awful bullying cultures among each other and with the academics too. I am currently being bullied by women as a male in a support role. I am the most vulnerable as I am on a probation period. The girl who has decided to hate me from the start and make me suffer emotional and mental torture is Hxxxxx Dxxxxx in FBMH. Her methods are under the radar mental tactics. I hope you can sleep at night! I have complained to higher management, however, they have sided with her and remain mostly silent. I will soon leave and take all my skills and experience with me.


January 27, 2017

Government Bullying: EU academics in Britain told to ‘make arrangements to leave’

Some EU citizens living in Britain who decided to seek permanent residency after the Brexit vote are being told to make arrangements to leave. A number of these people are among the 31,000 EU academics currently working in UK universities. Colin Talbot says many are alarmed and some have already decided to leave – putting the expertise of Britain’s universities in serious jeopardy.

“The UK’s university sector is one of our most valuable national assets,” Prof Brian Cox, the University of Manchester academic and TV presenter, told me last week. He argued that UK higher education “is a genuinely global industry generating billions of pounds in export earnings, one of the necessary foundations of our innovation-led economy and perhaps our strongest soft power asset; political and industrial leaders from all over the world were educated here in the UK.”

Which makes it all the more strange that the government should be – whether accidentally or deliberately – undermining them. Most of the Brexit commentary about UK universities has concentrated on issues of funding, research cooperation and students. Much less attention has been paid to what keeps universities running – academic staff – and what Brexit will mean for the 30,000-plus EU academics in the UK.

I arrived at a meeting a couple of weeks ago and noticed one of my academic colleagues was visibly distressed.

When I asked what was wrong, they said they’d just had a very alarming letter from the Home Office. Having lived and worked here for more than two decades (they’re a national of another EU country) they decided to play it safe after the Brexit vote and apply for leave to remain. Big mistake.

They received a threatening letter from the Home Office saying they had no right to be here and they should “now make arrangements to leave”. The letter was obviously wrong – they had every right to be here under existing UK law – but that didn’t lessen the emotional impact for my colleague, whose whole future was suddenly thrown into uncertainty.

I had read similar stories in the press, and wondered how many other academics might be affected, so I turned to Twitter to ask for any similar experiences. The tweet I posted asking for examples was retweeted – mostly by concerned academics – over 1,000 times. People started writing to me with cases and I began digging into the issue.

The first thing that struck me was the level of fear, anger and disgust – and in some cases resignation. I have disguised individual cases – that’s because few people are willing to speak openly, such is the degree of fear about what might happen after Brexit.

The impact on individuals

Some EU academics (along with others) who have been living and working legally in the UK for years decided, after June 23, that they should try to cement their position by applying for one or other of the various routes to permanent residency. The procedures are daunting and of Kafkaesque complexity – one form runs to 85 pages and requires forms of proof that make acquiring Catholic sainthood look simple. As a result many applications are failing – but it is the form of the rejection that is causing much concern. A typical letter from the Home Office says (in part):
“As you appear to have no alternative basis of stay in the United Kingdom you should now make arrangements to leave. If you fail to make a voluntary departure a separate decision may be made at a later date to enforce your removal…”
This appears to be a fairly typical ‘prepare to leave’ letter, variations on which have been sent to “failed” applicants – even though they are currently here perfectly legally.

Even more worryingly, the decision on whether to accept or reject these applications is based on the “Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 and Regulation 26 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006”, to quote the letter again. The latter will be repealed in the Great Repeal Bill planned by the government, which could rescind any ‘right to remain’ granted under existing law and regulations.

Brian Cox sums up the situation very well when he told me:
“We have spent decades – centuries arguably – building a welcoming and open atmosphere in our universities and, crucially, presenting that image to an increasingly competitive world. We’ve been spectacularly successful; many of the worlds finest researchers and teachers have made the UK their home, in good faith. A few careless words have already damaged our carefully cultivated international reputation, however. I know of few, if any, international academics, from within or outside the EU, who are more comfortable in our country now than they were pre-referendum. This is a recipe for disaster.”
Another academic colleague said: “As an academic I’m embarrassed and ashamed of [the] UK governments’ stance on EU citizens.”

One academic told me: “the Home Office is hedging its bets because we non-UK [academics] are now effectively hostages …”. A neuroscientist from the EU at a top UK university reacted with defiance: “For what is worth, I refuse to apply for a piece of paper [leave to remain] that I don’t need and won’t be valid after Brexit – when current law says I don’t need it. It’s just a certificate. They can stick their 85-page form up their arses.”

The level of anxiety is obvious: “I’m about to submit my permanent residency application. Any pointers from the rejections you’ve seen so far? Scary times ahead…”. Another said: “as an Irish citizen I am assuming the Ireland Act will continue to provide my right to be here. But… “
A policy specialist from Oxford said “people have been turned down for administrative reasons alone. The Home Office looks for any reason to say ‘no’ at the moment.” Or as another, retired, academic puts it, this is just “inhuman bureaucracy” at work.

How representative is all this? A recent survey of academics conducted by YouGov for the University and College Union (UCU) found that an overwhelming majority (90%) said Brexit will have a negative impact on UK higher education. Three-quarters (76%) of non-UK EU academics said they were more likely to consider leaving UK higher education. A third (29%) said they already know of academics leaving the UK, and over two-fifths (44%) said they know of academics who have lost access to research funding as a direct result of Brexit.

The impact on universities

UK universities are heavily dependent on academics from the EU. To cater for our global audience we need to attract the brightest and best and Europe is, unsurprisingly, a major source for such talent. Over 31,000 UK university academics come from the EU – sixteen percent of the total (all figures calculated from the Higher Education Statistics Agency data for 2014/15).

But this national figure underestimates just how important EU academics are to our top-rated universities. The London School of Economics has 38% EU academic staff. Other prominent London colleges – Imperial, King’s, University College London – have between a quarter and nearly a third. Oxford has 24% and Cambridge 22%. My own university, Manchester has 18% and most of the Russell Group of ‘research universities’ are in the top ranks of EU academic staff employers.
EU academics are equally important in the core subject areas that are vital to our long-term economic health. So areas like physics (26%), chemical engineering (25%), biosciences (22%), chemistry (21%) and IT (20%) are all heavily reliant on European talent.

So what?

Our global status isn’t, of course, just dependent on EU academics – UK experts are our bedrock (70%) – but the other 30% that come from the EU and the rest of the world are an important part of our global status.

Losing this talent – whether through demoralisation or deliberate design – would have catastrophic effects. As Brian Cox puts it: “Ministers must consider our global reputation before uttering platitudinous sound-bites for domestic consumption, and think much more carefully about how to ensure that the UK remains the best place in the world to educate and to be educated. [UK Universities] are everything the government claims it wants our country to become; a model for a global future.”

“The current rhetoric is the absolute opposite of what is required. The UK appears, from outside, to be increasingly unwelcoming and backward looking”.” They should be even more careful about the policies they enact and the way they are implemented...

More at: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2017/01/27/eu-academics-britain-told-to-leave/

January 20, 2017

Idealized, Devalued, Dumped, Discarded - Narcissist's Approach-Avoidance Cycles

The quality and reliability of Narcissistic Supply are, therefore, of paramount importance. The more the narcissist convinces himself that his sources are perfect, grand, comprehensive, authoritative, omniscient, omnipotent, beautiful, powerful, rich, brilliant, and so on -- the better he feels. The narcissist has to idealise his Supply Sources in order to highly value the supply that he derives from them. This leads to over-valuation. The narcissist forms a fantastic picture of his sources of Narcissistic Supply.

The fall is inevitable. Disillusionment and disappointment set in. The slightest criticism, disagreement, or differences of opinion are interpreted by the narcissist as an all out assault against the foundations of his existence. The previous appraisal is sharply reversed: the same people are judged stupid who were previously deemed to possess genius, for instance. 

This is the devaluation part of the cycle and it is very painful to both the narcissist and the devalued (for very different reasons, of course). The narcissist mourns the loss of a promising "investment opportunity" (Source of Narcissistic Supply). The "investment opportunity" mourns the loss of the narcissist...


British universities employ no black academics in top roles, figures show

No black academics have worked in senior management in any British university for the last three years, according to employment records.

Figures published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency record no black academics in the elite staff category of “managers, directors and senior officials” in 2015-16 – the third year in a row that this has happened.

Among the 535 senior officials who declared their ethnicity, 510 were white, 15 were Asian and 10 were recorded as “other including mixed”. Thirty senior academics either refused or failed to record an ethnicity.

The figures also show universities employ more black staff as cleaners, receptionists or porters than as lecturers or professors.

David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham and a former higher education minister, said: “This is absolutely shocking. I am appalled that higher education is so deeply unrepresentative of the country.

“Universities talk about widening participation and fair access but the complete lack of diversity in senior positions sends out an absolutely dreadful message to young people from ethnic minorities who find themselves wondering whether university is for them or not.”

More info at: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/jan/19/british-universities-employ-no-black-academics-in-top-roles-figures-show

January 13, 2017

A living nightmare - 'Prof' Platon Alexiou... Part 2

'Prof' Platon Alexiou
On page 2 of his CV the following appears:

On page 7 the same paper appears but this time it lists 'Prof' Platon Alexiou as the first author:

However, a basic search on Google using the title of the above paper reveals that Professor Ioannis Michaloudis is the only author of this paper (below). 'Prof' Platon Alexiou is not listed or described either as a 'collaborator' or a co-author...

December 31, 2016

Universities under fire for gagging former employees

Lib Dems say more than 3,500 higher education staff have signed compromise agreements in the past five years.

London Metropolitan University has signed settlement agreements with 894 staff since 2011/12.

Universities have been accused by the Lib Dems of stifling free speech through the use of “gagging clauses”, after the party’s research found more than 3,500 former staff members in higher education have signed “compromise agreements” in the past five years.

Freedom of information requests show that 48 universities have paid out £146m in severance cash to former staff members over the past five years and 3,722 people were asked to sign compromise or settlement agreements, which usually contain confidentiality clauses.

The highest number of such agreements was signed by London Metropolitan University, with 894 agreed since 2011/12. Others with high figures over the past five years include the University of Exeter with 346, Cambridge University with 237, and the University of East London with 184, out of the 48 universities that replied to the Lib Dem requests under transparency laws.

Responding to the figures, Tim Farron, the Lib Dem leader, said the use of confidentiality clauses in compromise agreements by universities was not appropriate.

“Universities are supposed to be bastions of free speech and forthright opinions, yet our research has shown that confidentiality clauses may have been used not only to avoid dirty laundry being aired in public but now are just common practice in higher education,” he said.

“This is simply outrageous. These gagging orders have a deterrent effect, employers seem to think that employees will just sign away the right to whistleblow.

“The cold wind of gagging staff and stifled debate, much in the public interest, is going through the halls of our bastions of enlightenment and tolerance. This must end, these practices must be stopped.”

Their use was defended by a number of the universities. A spokesman for London Metropolitan University said it was “common practice in higher education, and other sectors, to include compromise agreements in any voluntary redundancy settlements made”.

“Compromise agreements are recognised by statute, and the standard form of severance agreement from Acas includes an optional non-disclosure and confidentiality clause,” he said. “It is important to point out that such clauses do not prevent the individual from making a protected disclosure under whistleblowing legislation.

“A confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement is a standard element of voluntary severance agreements principally because almost all university staff will have had access to personal and private student data which universities have an obligation to protect from disclosure.

“Universities often have to make redundancies for a range of reasons, from the need to adjust to changing student numbers to the closure of courses with low demand or which do not meet the high standards of quality we expect.”

A University of Exeter spokesman said: “During the past five years the University of Exeter’s professional – non academic – services have been restructured to make sure they meet our future needs.

“Settlement agreements were used in these cases when staff left on a voluntary basis with enhanced terms. This is standard practice as part of employment law and protects personal information.

“The University of Exeter is a friendly and supportive workplace, where openness is actively encouraged. There are many mechanisms for staff to raise concerns confidentially.”

A spokeswoman for Cambridge University said: “The University of Cambridge takes pride in its ability to recruit, retain and support its staff. Like any large employer, our people leave the university for a variety of reasons and we are committed to fair and proper processes that respect those individuals.”

Dusty Amroliwala, deputy vice-chancellor at the University of East London, said some staff had been offered voluntary severance as part of restructuring programmes.

“Such voluntary programmes represent good employment practice and are often agreed in advance with the trade union side,” he said. “Compromise agreements provide a legally safe means of bringing to a formal end the relationship between a member of staff and the employer. They protect the interests of both parties to the agreement and are entered into on a voluntary basis.

“Compromise agreements are not drafted to prevent discussion about general failings that might impact on students. Such failings, were they to exist, would normally be in the public domain before the departure of any particular member.

“The university does not adopt clauses in such agreements to prevent the discovery of any specific failing. Rather, it does so to avoid any ad hominem comment. The university is a strong supporter of the practice of free speech. It also recognises the importance of ensuring that appropriate safeguards are in place to protect both parties to a confidential agreement.”

The use of compromise agreements in the higher education sector appears to be much higher than in the NHS. The Lib Dems also collected figures for compromise agreements in the health service, which showed they have been used 439 times over the past five years by 44 trusts which paid out £73m in severance payments.

The highest users out of the trusts surveyed showed around 10 per year being agreed with former staff members.

The Department for Education said it was a matter for the employment practices of universities as businesses, while the Department for Health said it has written to all trusts to remind them of their legal obligations.

“We want the NHS to be the safest and most transparent healthcare system in the world,” a Department of Health spokesman said. “A departing employee should never be prevented from speaking out in the public interest where they have genuine concerns – but it’s wrong to say settlement agreements undermine that. We have written to all trusts to remind them of their legal obligations.”

From: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/dec/30/universities-gagging-former-employees-lib-dems-compromise-agreements