November 13, 2007

One banana short of a republic

Why the “one banana short” website?

Over my years as a university professor, I have seen my share of puzzling administrative action. Often my view has been close up and first hand, having served as president of my faculty association, as president of the provincial confederation of faculty associations and as a member of the board of governors at my institution.

The frequent unwillingness (and sometimes almost pathological inability) of some administrators to exercise common sense and to reverse poor judgment can damage our institutions substantially. When the actions of the administration of public institutions evoke images of a Stalinist Keystone Cops episode, or a Monty Python skit, or a journey with Alice through Wonderland—or when such actions cause an institution to be but one banana short of a republic—it is time to examine the matter in a more public spotlight.

In this first issue, I am presenting matters at the University of Lethbridge, where I have taught for over twenty years. Others matters at the University of Lethbridge and other institutions will be discussed in forthcoming issues.

The purpose of this website is to challenge administrations of public institutions to perform in line with accepted standards of fair play, due process and natural justice—and to expose administrations where that does not happen.

Tom Robinson, Professor. The University of Lethbridge

From: http://onebananashort.org/home.html

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

One of the problems with websites like 'bananas' is that they are selective in their choice of facts. The cases outlined all have other sides, and people who choose to post documents post none of the ones that would help achieve balance. These documents exist, and they are in the possession of the poster(s). That is ironic in the case of a site that pleads for transparency.

Moreover, universities have bylaws that require folks with complaints to make them privately to the individuals involved, in the first place. There is no evidence here that any of these initial conversations/processes were followed. Don't we have a problem with the hubris of people who go 'right to the top' without following the procedures they claim to be defending?

Anonymous said...

Yes - you make valid points that some of the people who raise complaints about bullying are themselves prone to using tactics that lack transparency and balance....

..but the more that we understand about bullying from websites such as this the better equipped we will be to make judgements about what constitutes bullying and what does not...

Aphra Behn

Loralee Edwards said...

I find it ironic that in your post calling for transparency you chose to make your comment anonymously

Anonymous said...

Yes it is an irony that those of us who are speaking out against workplace bullying in our own universities cannot speak out in public on blogs like this - or even within our own university.

We have to use a grievance procedure which relies on us being silent and just using official channels.

This means that I have no idea who else is taking out a grievance related to workplace bullying in my university...because whoever they are they have to remain silent as well ...

Anyone who believes that they are a target of bullying and takes out a grievance will know that those with power will just be waiting to pounce... to discipline them... and remove them...

... a colleague called my action 'professional suicide'...

In my university there is no support from UCU...

So yes worth thinking about the ironies of bullying... in this anti bullying week...

... and why bullying in universities is surrounded by such silence and anonymity

Aphra Behn

Anonymous said...

Why, Ms Edwards? I am not the one with a website devoted to these matters. Without wanted to get involved, I am simply asking (a) whether all the relevant documents that can be made available have been made available -- and whether selection might bias the account we read, and (b) whether the complaint and conflict resolution procedures set up to protect everyone was followed?

Tom Robinson said...

Regarding the one banana short site, I have posted documents either written to me by senior administrators and board members or written by me to these people. I am more than happy to add any relevant document written by others if I have the permission of the sender and the recipient to post this matter on the one banana short site. In fact, I have been insisting on a full and neutral investigation into these matters for some time, but have been denied. I assume that there are many documents between individuals involved in these matters that I have no knowledge of, but I will be insisting that such documents become public records of the court before this matter is settled.

As for the question of process raised by anonymous, one need only read the correspondence between the President and me (posted on the site) to determine that the senior administrator of the University of Lethbridge had no problem with my bringing the matter to his attention.

I must say that the responses of administrators of the University of Lethbridge to the one banana short website seem to nicely confirm what I have been contending--we are about one banana short of a republic. How unfortunate.

Anonymous said...

1. "Moreover, universities have bylaws that require folks with complaints to make them privately to the individuals involved, in the first place."

I am not involved in the case, know enough about the site to readily add to the above statement: "...in which case they are immediately and quietly ignored."


2. "There is no evidence here that any of these initial conversations/processes were followed."

Unless, of course, one considers documents, meeting minutes, and what people say they did certainly do, as "evidence". If a piece of paper in front of me might not actually exist, or if we have our fingers in our ears, then yes, one might says "there is not evidence". Whoever wrote this is playing with words, or lying.

Anonymous said...

This last person is well out of order. No lying or playing with words. There were at least five people involved who were not administration and none of these people were consulted before complainer went to the president. That the president was willing to listen should not prevent these five people from a due process complainer now makes a holy show about.

Michel said...

Anonymous,

Until you publish your name, any comments you make are going to be considered less credible than if your name were published, because readers of this blog are going to be curious of a) the source (and veracity) of your information, and b) your motivation in publishing that information here.

My name is Mike Wiggers. I'm a former student, and current community member. I've read the information available on the onebananashort.org site, and I'm disturbed by it. If you have information that would explain or exonerate some (preferably all) the actions taken by the U of L administration and various board members, you may want to provide that information in order to be taken seriously.

As it stands right now, Dr. Robinson appears to me to be the only one who is forthright about providing information.

And if your major concern (in not publishing this information) is FOIP legislation, well, it appears that the administration has not exactly been as diligent as it could have been in following it's tenets when it was in someone else's best interest, so......

Anonymous said...

transparency? do we have the same powers as the bullies... spoke directly to the bullies they ran a campaign of lies behind the scenes, the filthy lowly university managers and HR helped them and supported them. When did transparency ever work for the weak? It is used againts us. Locate where we stand and manage their next attack, the attack of the powerful dirty old mob.

Jim Linville said...

This is all getting silly. Is the last "anonymous" the same person as all of the "anonymouses" who have been posting previously? How can anyone have a sustained conversation over serious matters when one doesn't know to whom (or to how many) people they are responding.

If Professor Robinson has wronged anyone then they certainly have a right to demand redress, but if they have been wronged, why do not
identify themselves and try to "clear their names"? In turn, Professor Robinson feels wronged, not only by some members of the University administration, but he feels let down by the Faculty Association as well. As I understand it, the "banana" is a reaction to this, his attempt to tell his story.

If there are matters of which he is unaware, then he should be informed of them. If there are innocent people he has harmed he should be informed of this. The documents he has posted are the documents he feels he has the right to post since they primarily concern him and were either written by him or were addressed to him. Let's also remember that he did not take this action (posting the banana) until 18 months had passed since the start of the whole kafuffle (sp?).

Regardless of who is right in our argument here, can we at least know who the hell is arguing?


Jim Linville,
Dept. of Religious Studies
University of Lethbridge.

Anonymous said...

Duh

people write anonymously to avoid the bullies attacking them

Don't you know!

Jim Linville said...

I fail to see how Professor Robinson is a bully in all of this. What did he do? He took a question a student had to the president of the university. It has not been Robinson who has been escalating the matters to the point where he now faces suspension.

Oh, and sometimes anonymity is used to make indefensible allegations.

Jim Linville

anonymous said...

Anonymity can indeed be used to make indefensible allegations, but in such cases these allegations should not count for anything.

Anonymity is also used to avoid the bullies attacking the targets/victims. In such cases it is a normal thing to want to protect youself against exposure.

Professor Robinson - it would seem - decided to stand up for himself - his only crime, and the weight of the system has come down heavy on him - normal practice for many higher education organisations - and others.

The more Professor Robinsons we have prepared to stand up, the less there is a need for the victims to remain anonymous. He has courage and so do those who support him not anonymously.

Anonymous said...

We are pretty liberal here in applying the "bully" label. Could the students and the union members Dr Robinson did not talk to also feel bullied? Satisfied students reading one account on a website? Faculty members asked to answer to the president and not their immediate superiors?

Anonymous said...

Fair enough re Robinson and the comment by Dr. Linville.

I have nothing to do with this dispute other than finding the posts and web site as very interesting.

I am doing my MA on power relationships in the academy and so this sort of dispute is interesting.

But Dr. Linville asks a question about who are the bullies.

Please read Dr. Robinson's comments on his site. He cites Stalin, Alice in Wonderland and other images that escalate the dispute. This is a sure sign of a bully from all I have learned.

Anyway, thanks to all for the research information.

Let's all work for a workplace free of bullies from all sides.

Anonymous said...

I have been involved with this situation from the very beginning. If you want to talk about FOIP, how about how the President revealed my name which got me kicked out of a class. Then there is the meeting involving the chair, vice-chair and myself which was an interogation to get me to implicate Dr Robinson to get him fired (which the chair admitted to the Student Union President). I think the bullying is much deeper than we think. The University has suffered because of this and student rights are being suppressed. The student paper is being censured, students are being threatened with expulsion in a variety of situations. However, the situation is being suppressed and people like Tom Robinson are the only ones willing to stand up against the oppressive powers that be.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Kicked out? Was your registration cancelled? Were you withdrawn against you will? And why do you think you have a right to make complaints about people without those people knowing your name? That's a strange right to assert. To be confronted directly by your accuser is the absolute right here.