April 11, 2009

Making the Star Chamber Work

1. The tribunal should extend its jurisdiction or catchment area however broadly is required to take up the complaint against DR. PITA—whether the incident occurred on campus or off, in his professorial role or outside it.

2. Ideally, DR. PITA should be found guilty of something before he finds out what it is. The Harassment Officer may assist one or more complainants in drawing up a plausible preliminary indictment for subsequent approval by the tribunal as a whole.

3. To enlist DR. PITA’s cooperation in his own undoing, confound the roles of counsellor, prosecutor, and judge. In conversations with an official he believes is being friendly, he may make incriminating statements that can later be held against him.

4. Make sure the victim-accuser is on side. More than one case has been lost, even with many ardent complainants, because the alleged victim did not herself find DR. PITA’s behaviour objectionable.

5. Reward accusers. For lowly undergraduates, the attentions of important university officials may be reward enough. Financial compensation or revision of grades, on account of injuries sustained, may also be considered.

6. Avoid falsifiable statements in the indictment. Vagueness and innuendo are far more effective than charges that lend themselves to being disproven.

7. Once the decision is made to proceed to a formal hearing, move as quickly as possible, showing a sense of great urgency. A hearing that cannot be arranged promptly may not be able to be arranged at all.

8. Ignore DR. PITA’s lawyer, if he has one, and forbid the lawyer’s presence at the hearing. Explain that domestic tribunals of a university proceed by norms of collegiality, and that legalistic, adversarial measures are out of place.

9. If the faculty association or other bodies attempt to intervene on DR. PITA’s behalf, accuse them of trying to exert undue influence. Insist that the tribunal will not bend to the political pressure being applied.

10. Ignore claims that the tribunal is biased against him. Respond as one chair did: “I am satisfied that this committee member has no apprehension of bias.”

11. Disregard evidence in DR. PITA’s favour on substantive grounds. Describe it as irrelevant or not germane to the issues under consideration.

12. Disregard evidence in DR. PITA’s favour on procedural grounds. Say it was submitted at the wrong time, to the wrong official, or in the wrong format.

13. If there is evidence that DR. PITA has discussed the case outside the tribunal (he may admit, for instance, having talked about it with his wife, his dean, or some colleagues), charge him with breach of confidentiality.

14. If DR. PITA speaks his accusers’ names outside the tribunal, charge him with breach of confidentiality and with attempting to damage their reputations and cause them to suffer.

15. If DR. PITA (or his colleague-advisor, if the policy provides for one) objects to the tribunal’s procedures, remind him that this is not a court of law, that collegiality must be insisted upon, and that the tribunal will not entertain editorial comments.

16. Ignore the references to context that DR. PITA is almost sure to make. Explain that the tribunal’s only concern is with this particular incident, not with what may have happened before or after.

17. Find an excuse to make a confidential investigation that may yield additional complaints and is useful in any case for damaging DR. PITA’s reputation. Contact former students, for example, or advertise in the newspaper. In a case against a policeman pita, the tribunal set out to contact each of the 2,047 women he had had something to do with during his eight years on the force.

18. Try to provoke DR. PITA into losing his temper or doing something rash, then make appropriate additional charges. Like most professors, DR. PITA is so proud and vain that the hearing itself will insult and fluster him.

19. In the report at the end, find DR. PITA guilty of something, even if it is not what he was initially charged with. The important thing is to find against him. The precise nature of the finding is of secondary importance.

20. Write a long report, preferably at least ten pages single-spaced. Number sections and paragraphs. Include lots of footnotes. Be vague and repetitive. Include nothing that could be quoted out of context as being in DR. PITA’s favour.

21. Recommend multiple punishments: for example, requirements to make several different apologies, go for counselling, and attend a series of workshops, in addition to a financial penalty.

22. Do not let your animus against DR. PITA show, nor lead you to write things that are obviously untrue. Senior managers will not take kindly to a report so extreme they are obliged to reject it, and may deny you the rewards you will otherwise receive for your service to the university.

23. The report should include innuendo so damaging to DR. PITA that he will not himself release it publicly, however strong his objections. Suggestions of sexual predation or mental unbalance serve well.

24. Do not release the report publicly, lest the tribunal be revealed as a kanagaroo court. After my first ethics hearing, the provost put the report on the Internet. I understand from him that he now regrets that decision.

25. For the same reason, never release audio-tapes of the proceeding, much less a transcript. If this cannot be avoided (in connection with an appeal, for instance), DR. PITA may be allowed to listen to the tapes under administrative supervision, but under no circumstances should he be allowed to walk away with a copy.

A Sample Chapter from Kenneth Westhues, Eliminating Professors: a Guide to the Dismissal Process, Lewiston: NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1998.


Anonymous said...

A few more examples ...

Ignore the evidence that you are given by the target... especially any evidence that is incriminating

Just state that the grievance is not upheld - you do not have to give any reason.

Ignore emails from the target that raise potentially difficult issues.

Start surveys that deal with Dignity at Work issues but if the results are not what you want then don't worry - no-one will challenge you.

Don't investigate any Faculties where there are concerns... just ignore them.

If your grievance procedure doesn't work in your favour then just rewrite it deleting the problem areas

Don't worry about UCU... they are firmly under your control and will do nothing to support their members.

Run a few courses about how to deal with difficult staff etc ...makes it look like you are doing something...

Aphra Behn

Anonymous said...

Any resemblance between justice as it is proclaimed and as it is practiced in post-secondary educational institutions is purely coincidental and is to be avoided at all costs.

El Cid

Anonymous said...

Never trust one's staff association or representatives as they may be collaborating with one's accusers. This may be due to personal bias against the accused or the offer of a reward by the administration for co-operating. What is the sacrifice of an individual compared with the possible benefits that may be obtained?