October 08, 2011

Repeatedly bullied...

I was repeatedly bullied by the Vice-President of Hisuping Institute of Technology when I was employed there. After the semester started in September 2002, I soon found that massive fraud was taking place in the form of excessive grade inflation for so-called students with whom there was an open tacit understanding that paying one’s tuition and merely attending classes, or at least sufficiently being present for the roll call, would mean eventually getting a degree.

Personally, I refused to undertake teaching work without honesty and integrity, and therefore failed students according to an accurate appraisal of their performances while they consistently refused to cooperate. The president at that time informed the English department faculty members that regardless of our frustration with the students unwillingness to do what they were supposed to do – study and show at least some nominal respect for classroom etiquette – we must not fail more than 15% of any class.

The Vice-President went further, demanding of me personally on several occasions that I do not fail more than 5% of a class, and impose grades on a bell curve, which he claimed was done at reputable universities, while not mentioning that would constitute fraud. When I said I would not be a party to such fraud, I was told that I would do as I’m told if I wanted “to keep working there.”

I refused to compromise my integrity after being repeatedly called to go to his office where the same demand was repeated and was continuously criticized for allegedly being unable to teach. I was accused of being at fault for the very high failure rates and was even threatened with my work permit being cancelled, which would mean that I would be fired and have to leave the country at short notice, if I didn’t agree to artificially inflate grades to such a high extent that they would be rendered totally meaningless while the so-called students did nothing to earn even passing grades. I was also repeatedly told to resign and publicly ridiculed in department meetings.

After I refused to comply after being repeatedly threatened and forced to listen to baseless false accusations, I was removed from all of the evening classes at short notice and told my contract would not be renewed for the following year, i.e. forced to resign.

“First they abuse you, and then they ridicule you, and then you win.” Mahatma Ghandi


There had been a series of harassing measures taken against me by the present department chair of the AE department at Overseas Chinese University in Taichung, Taiwan.

In April 2010, I was told I must write a self-deprecating letter about how I “plan to improve myself" regardless of my other achievements, including publishing three books and receiving the national research grant for four years. Apparently, turning in teacher training documentation for the school year before he became department chair was more important, and for some reason he made it his business to harass me about this matter, and publicise it among colleagues.

On 19 April 2010, I was mobbed in the teacher training evaluation committee where I was told to speak in my defense before the colleagues there about how I need to “improve myself,” as if this were a campus prosecutor’s court, before being told to leave the room after making my statement. I was prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to having to write another letter of self-criticism, and became a journal editor, and find this opportunity on my own, regardless of the fact that no one on this committee but me is a journal editor, and the only member of this committee who has published original research.

On 10 June 2010, the same department chair threatened me with my contract not being renewed if I did not turn in the teacher training documentation for that school year.

Beware of a department chair harassing you for an alleged shortcoming on your annual evaluation, and intending to humiliate you in public because of it and sharing this with your colleagues, and then using the same pretext to threatening you with dismissal solely on the grounds of an alleged minor shortcoming.

Andrew Szanajda

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Incidents such as those described only show how much the corporate culture has permeated the educational system because it's all about money, reputation, and ratings. Any relationship with truth, knowledge, and wisdom is purely accidental.

At the place where I used to teach, grade inflation was unofficially encouraged. I personally know of some cases where students who had failed a course had their results raised by certain administrators and, thereby, allowed to pass. Those marks were manipulated regardless of whether those students were qualified to write supplemental exams.

My last department head was guilty of this but he was more concerned about his reputation. He was afraid that if too many students failed, the "customer satisfaction" surveys would not be favourable. That would mean that the department wouldn't get its "gravy" funding from the government and get a reputation for being tough, which might affect application rates. More important than anything else, though, it might have affected his chances of promotion and he desperately wanted to be dean.

I left that mess nearly a decade ago and I'm glad I did.