This is a response to the May 5 posting [see below] about the academic who was dismised for academic misconduct for using email and a blog to express criticisms toward managment and policies within their University. The posting reveals clearly why I am reticent to post details of names and persons associated with my own mobbing experience at my university on a blog. It is apparent that the mobbers and bullies peruse the Web, blogs, and discussion groups and use these postings to "get" their targets on some violation of university policy.
Where can we, the targets of bullies and mobbers, speak out against mobbing and bullying in ways that make our stories real, so we can heal, and attain some sense of justice without being targeted and attacked once more? Is that possible? Has anyone out there tried publishing their stories about mobbing in higher education in an academic journal, and been successful? I would like to know!
This blog on academic bullying and mobbing is a haven for me. It is where I can go and have my expereinces validated, feel support from people all over the world, and share. For when I share stories about being mobbed with colleagues within my own profession, they looked stunned, and appear to care, only later to treat me like I have a rare disease. Even at my union meeting, when I brought up an anti-mobbing resolution (that finally passed because there were union delegates opposed to it!), and shared my story about mobbing on my campus, I was "shunned" at lunch. Mobbed higher education faculty worldwide need solidarity, justice, and relief.
Is there a organization or conference where our stories can be told? How can we unite in a critical mass that transcends discipline, cultural and geographical borders?
What objectively constitutes 'gross miscoduct' should be very easy to define. In fact, most universities list examples in their disciplinary procedures. You will often find that some of the descriptions on such lists allow for almost anything to be interpreted as 'gross miscoduct'. For example, 'any act or omission that amounts to the repudiation of the contract of employment' - but who decides this?
It is a sad realisation that one of the by-products of this blog is bosses snooping around, looking for 'evidence' to condemn a colleague, BUT we all know this is not the real reason AND one way or another they can find reasons for 'gross miscoduct' - if needed, the reasons can always be made up... This is the sad reality.
Of importance is also what we can do to support colleagues who decide to make their battle against workplace bullying open and well-known... If we can't go anywhere to speak freely and to support each other without the fear of repercussions, we may as well support those of us that decide to stand up. They are also fighting our battle - if we all make an effort to support them, perhaps then we can unite in a 'critical mass that transcends discipline, cultural and geographical borders'.
Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights protects the right to freedom of expression. Before the Human Rights Act 1998 came into force, the right to freedom of expression was a negative one: you were free to express yourself, unless the law otherwise prevented you from doing so. With the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into English and Welsh domestic law, the right to freedom of expression is now expressly guaranteed.
However, the right to freedom of expression in Article 10 is not absolute. Interferences with the right to freedom of expression may be permitted if they are prescribed by law, pursue a legitimate aim and are necessary in a democratic society, that is, satisfy a pressing social need. The legitimate purposes for which freedom of expression can be limited are:
- National security, territorial integrity or public safety.
- The prevention of disorder or crime.
- The protection of health or morals.
- The protection of the reputation or rights of others.
- The prevention of the disclosure of information received in confidence.
- For maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.
...There is no single comprehensive definition of what is defamatory. Various suggestions have been made before the courts, including any material which:
For a statement to be defamatory the imputation must tend to lower the claimant in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally. Even if the words damage a person in the eyes of a section of society or the community, they are not defamatory unless they amount to a disparagement of the reputation in the eyes of right-thinking people generally...
Also, somewhere we read: Academic staff have freedom within the law to question and test perceived wisdom and to put forward new ideas and controversial or unpopular opinions without placing themselves in jeopardy of losing their jobs or privileges.
It is a test of principles, for the individual(s), the colleagues, the friends, the union reps and the managers... If this was a test, the failure rate would be very high...