July 31, 2008

Witness Intimidation Declared Legal by Crown Prosecution Service

In January, 2007, solicitors for Dr Howard Fredrics, claimant in a pending case before the Employment Tribunal of whistleblower victimization, disability discrimination and unfair dismissal informed his former employer, Kingston University, that Mrs Lori Fredrics, who had attended the proceedings on behalf of her husband, who had become ill, had inadvertently recorded several tea breaks during an internal grievance appeal held before the University’s Board of Governors. The recordings allegedly contained statements by the Governors, Personnel Director, University Secretary and Vice Chancellor that were of an inappropriately pejorative and prejudicial nature and which suggested that the Governors had no intention of hearing the facts of the case in an impartial and unbiased fashion. Clearly, the University would be quite embarrassed were this damaging evidence of corruption to see the light of day in open court.

Instead of admitting wrongdoing, the University’s response was to have its University Secretary, Mr Donald Beaton, send a series of allegedly threatening and intimidating letters to Dr and Mrs Fredrics and to their solicitor in which Mr Beaton accused them of having committed crimes in the collection of evidence, and accused their solicitor of having been “complicit” in the commission of these alleged crimes. Mr Beaton threatened to report Dr and Mrs Fredrics and their solicitor to the Information Commissioner for criminal prosecution under the Data Protection Act 1998 and to seek a court injunction with attached costs unless Dr and Mrs Fredrics turned over all copies of the recordings and transcripts thereof.

Dr and Mrs Fredrics, not being legally qualified, were terrified by these letters, believing that they might, indeed, have inadvertently committed the crimes alleged by Mr Beaton, who cited all sorts of obscure provisions of the law to justify his accusations of criminal wrongdoing. At the time, they were residing in virtual exile in the US, having lost their right to live and work in the UK after Dr Fredrics’ dismissal, where they were awaiting the outcome of Dr Fredrics’ application for Highly Skilled Migrant visa status. Their immigration solicitor advised them that were they to be charged with a crime or even simply reported to the Information Commissioner, they could very well be barred from entering the UK, where they had all their worldly possessions, including their 21-year old cat. Not having access to a criminal solicitor, they remained in a state of panic for several months until Dr Fredrics’ visa was approved and they were able to return to the UK.

Once they returned to the UK, they sought legal advice and were told that Mr Beaton’s accusations were entirely without merit, that they had done nothing illegal and that they were simply the victims of witness intimidation. Mr Beaton and the University took no action as they had threatened to do, and Dr and Mrs Fredrics held on to the recordings and transcripts, as to turn over all copies would be to risk their becoming compromised or destroyed altogether.

The next step for Dr and Mrs Fredrics was to seek redress and a stop to the alleged ongoing acts of intimidation by filing criminal charges against Mr Beaton. Thus after a hearing on the facts, a panel of three Magistrates duly advised by the Clerk of the Court issued a summons on 20 April 2007 to Mr Beaton to appear to answer charges of Witness Intimidation, a violation of the Criminal Justice and Police Act of 2001.

Once the charges were filed and the summons issued, Mr Beaton allegedly continued through his solicitors to send intimidating letters to Dr and Mrs Fredrics, despite the fact that their solicitors explicitly wrote to Mr Beaton’s solicitors asking that no further direct approaches be made to Dr and Mrs Fredrics. Accompanying a letter of 1 May were copies of one of the earlier letters sent by Mr Beaton to Dr and Mrs Fredrics. Interestingly, this letter contained a dated fax header, which was clearly marked “Office of the Vice-Chancellor”. The date of the header was 6 March 2007, the date of one of Mr Beaton’s letters to Dr and Mrs Fredrics, and prior to their having filed charges against Mr Beaton. This gave rise to Dr and Mrs Fredrics’ suspicion that the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof Peter Scott, had been aware of the sending of these letters and that he had in all likelihood authorized their sending, which would, therefore, implicate him in the acts of Witness Intimidation. Given that Prof Scott had been recently nominated by the Prime Minister for a Knighthood, it was quite troubling to Dr and Mrs Fredrics that he might have been inappropriately involved not only in the allegedly corrupt grievance appeal hearing, but also, in the alleged attempts by the University to cover up the evidence of the conduct of these proceedings.

After a preliminary hearing on 10 May 2007, the Crown Prosecution Service, in an apparently political decision, took over the case from Dr and Mrs Fredrics and on 22 June 2007, dropped the charges on the grounds that there was “insufficient evidence” that a crime took place. The basis of their decision was that the Act does not explicitly refer to Employment Tribunal proceedings under its list of “relevant proceedings”.

Could Parliament have intended for witness intimidation to, in effect, be legal when it involves parties to an Employment Tribunal, a bona fide civil proceeding with the full weight of law behind it? Or was this merely an oversight in the wording of the Act? Could a panel of three duly advised Magistrates have got it all wrong? In any event the implications are positively chilling – parties to Employment Tribunals and their witnesses can now be freely intimidated with an eye towards perverting the course of Justice. Whistleblowers who take their employers to Tribunal must now be especially careful that they do not fall victim to such acts, for which they will have little or no recourse under the law.

From: http://www.freedomtocare.org

Also from Freedom to Care: Three Fundamental Human Claims

Every human being has an inalienable right to accountable behaviour from organisations (whether public, private or independent) whose activities significantly affect their quality of life and that of future generations.

Public officials and private sector directors and managers (whether of for-profit or non-profit organisations) have a duty to explain and justify their intentions, actions and omissions to all those whose quality of life is affected thereby.

All employees have a right to freedom of conscience and speech in the workplace.

July 29, 2008

The shocking cost of workplace bullying

The world's biggest anti-bullying project reveals that employers' failure to tackle the root causes of bullying in the workplace is costing the UK economy GBP13.75 billion a year.

The project also reveals that Black, Minority and Ethnic (BME) workers are more likely to be targets of workplace bullying and harassment than other workers yet are less likely to have a support network to help them through the experience.

In 'The Costs of Workplace Bullying', the project has estimated that some 33.5 million jobs were lost by UK organisation in 2007 as a result of bullying-related absenteeism. Almost 200,000 employees considered leaving their jobs and the equivalent of 100 million days in productivity were lost as a result of bullying.

Cath Speight, Unite acting head of equalities said: "Employers can no longer be in any doubt about the business case for tackling bullying. It has a devastating impact on individuals, but businesses suffer too. Workers who suffer from bullying, and those who witness it, experience low morale and are more likely to take time off or leave their jobs."

A second report, 'BME Employee Experiences of Workplace Bullying`, is calling upon employers to improve anti-bullying activities in their workplaces.

Cath Speight added: "The shocking truth is that Black and Minority Ethnic workers are more likely to be targets of workplace bullying. Employers need to recognise this and take action to combat this."

The report's main author, Dr Sabir Giga from the University of Bradford, said: "Bullying is impacting on Black Minority Ethnic workers' job satisfaction, promotion opportunities and health. Employers must develop a zero tolerance to bullying so that all workers are treated with dignity and respect."

The Dignity at Work partnership project is also publishing its 'Action Pack', offering solutions to employers and union representatives seeking to tackle workplace bullying.

Baroness Ann Gibson, Chair of the Dignity at Work Project, said: "Workers who experience bullying are more likely to go off sick or leave and colleagues who witness bullying are also less likely to stick around. Employers who choose to ignore bullying do so at huge costs to society."

From: http://www.itnews.it

Download the report

The Abilene Paradox

On a hot afternoon visiting in Coleman, Texas, the family is comfortably playing dominoes on a porch, until the father-in-law suggests that they take a trip to Abilene [53 miles north] for dinner. The wife says, "Sounds like a great idea." The husband, despite having reservations because the drive is long and hot, thinks that his preferences must be out-of-step with the group and says, "Sounds good to me. I just hope your mother wants to go." The mother-in-law then says, "Of course I want to go. I haven't been to Abilene in a long time."

The drive is hot, dusty, and long. When they arrive at the cafeteria, the food is as bad as the drive. They arrive back home four hours later, exhausted.

One of them dishonestly says, "It was a great trip, wasn't it." The mother-in-law says that, actually, she would rather have stayed home, but went along since the other three were so enthusiastic. The husband says, "I wasn't delighted to be doing what we were doing. I only went to satisfy the rest of you." The wife says, "I just went along to keep you happy. I would have had to be crazy to want to go out in the heat like that." The father-in-law then says that he only suggested it because he thought the others might be bored.

The group sits back, perplexed that they together decided to take a trip which none of them wanted. They each would have preferred to sit comfortably, but did not admit to it when they still had time to enjoy the afternoon.

The phenomenon may be a form of groupthink. It is easily explained by social psychology theories of social conformity and social cognition which suggest that human beings are often very averse to acting contrary to the trend of the group. Likewise, it can be observed in psychology that indirect cues and hidden motives often lie behind peoples' statements and acts, frequently because social disincentives discourage individuals from openly voicing their feelings or pursuing their desires.

From: Wikipedia

July 26, 2008


Anonymous said:

It is the sort of policies that encourage fraud of this sort at universities (i.e. in effect, misrepresentation of academic standards and/or refusal to make concrete improvements in quality) that lead directly to bullying of staff and students. When staff come forward and tell the truth about what's really going on, they are targeted for elimination rituals.

Wouldn't it just be easier to actually do something to improve the quality of education, rather than wasting resources by silencing and eliminating ethical and accomplished academics, as well as later being forced to waste hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money on defending the inevitable lawsuits that result from bullying the staff and students?

That's not even taking into account the extremely negative impact on the university's reputation and income stream when these things eventually come out in the wash -- and they nearly always do. Tsk, tsk, penny-wise and pound-foolish.

A question for Sir Peter Scott: Wouldn't it be wiser to take advantage of the energy and ingenuity of staff members to do GOOD for the University rather than wasting their talents by eliminating them?

Just imagine how much good these people could have done for the University if they weren't bullied out of their jobs when they voiced GENUINE concerns for the well being of the University?

Is there, indeed, no room for constructive criticism at Kingston University?

Why aren't those staff members who call for maintaining and/or improving standards listened to and rewarded?

The Universities Secretary John Denham had told the House of Commons that he condemned the attempt at Kingston University to distort the survey

A university department is to be excluded from this year's official league tables of student satisfaction. The removal of Kingston's psychology department data follows a recording which caught staff instructing students to falsify their approval ratings.

Students were told by staff if they gave negative responses "nobody is going to want to employ you". The government-funded National Student Survey is intended to help applicants decide where to apply to university.

Kingston University says it accepts the decision and will work "to avoid any repeat of this incident". The decision to remove Kingston's psychology department from the 2008 National Student Survey, set to be published in September, has been taken by the Higher Education Funding Council which runs the survey.

'It might sound biased...'

"It's very important that people believe in the findings," said a Hefce spokesman.

The Universities Secretary John Denham had told the House of Commons that he "utterly condemned" the attempt at Kingston University to distort the survey.

There have been claims in e-mails sent to the BBC News website that the survey, part of the quality assurance system, was being used by some universities as a way of improving their public image - including an internal university e-mail describing the survey as part of "reputation management".

Along with removing Kingston's psychology department, the funding council is expected to issue tougher guidelines to protect the credibility of the survey.

Staff at Kingston University were caught in an audio recording encouraging students to dishonestly answer the survey - telling students that inflating the ranking of the university would be to their own advantage. "If Kingston comes down the bottom, the bottom line is that nobody is going to want to employ you," staff warned students.

"The reason it's important is the results of this survey get fed into a national database which then feed into league tables - and it's the league tables that prospective employers and postgraduate courses use to assess the value of your degree," students were told.

The briefing from staff presented this official survey as an opportunity to promote a positive image for the university. "In effect you're competing against lots of students at other institutions who also want their university to look good," students were told.

"Although this is going to sound incredibly biased, you rate these things on a five-point scale, if you think something was a four - a 'good' - my encouragement would be give it a five, because that's what everyone else is doing."

'Reputation management'

The recording showed students being told specific areas in which the university wants to change its "profile" by fixing the results of the survey.

The staff member tells students that there is a "dip" in the university's profile in giving students feedback. She says they might be failing to recognise the amount of feedback they are receiving.

"Feedback, in terms of this questionnaire, means what happens in seminars. Every seminar you have you get some interactive feedback from the person giving it.So if I ask a question and no one answers, and I start banging my head on the table, that is feedback. If I'm smiling and going 'yeah great', you're getting feedback. If you get a mark for a piece of work, that's what we mean by feedback."

Another member of staff in the recording instructed students not to use the survey for negative comments if they were unhappy about the modules they had been taught. "All that garbage you're spewing out about us" should not be included in the National Student Survey, students were warned.

The spokesman for Hefce says that the survey is intended to help to inform the decision making of university applicants and to give universities feedback about their courses.

It is also part of the quality assurance to make sure that public money is being well spent in higher education. The survey is carried out in universities in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and in some participating universities in Scotland.

A statement from Kingston University said that it accepted the decision and "has been aware that this was the most likely outcome since this isolated incident first came to light".

"Kingston University has taken this situation very seriously and co-operated fully with Hefce as it has looked into the matter. The university plans to introduce an agreed script in the run-up to the next National Student Survey which will be widely circulated to students and staff to avoid any repeat of this incident."

From: http://news.bbc.co.uk

July 24, 2008

Almost 17 per cent of academics at De Montfort University said they had been bullied - What about the other HEIs?

Almost 17 per cent of academics at De Montfort University said they had been bullied at work, in an internal staff survey. The survey also found that bullying among technical and other non-academic staff was reported by one in ten respondents.

Of the 1,061 staff who took part in the survey earlier this year, 169 of the participants, about 15 per cent, said they were "always, often or sometimes bullied" at work. Among the 433 academics to respond, 72 of them, or 16.6 per cent, agreed with this statement.

However, in a report detailing the findings, obtained by Times Higher Education, the university says the figures are significantly lower than levels of workplace bullying across all sectors nationally, and the number of De Montfort academics reporting bullying has fallen from 19.45 per cent in 2006.

The survey is based on a Health and Safety Executive framework to measure workplace stress, defined as "the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them".

Results are graded from one to five, with one the poorest score, as well as by a "traffic light" system, in which amber indicates a "clear need for improvement" and red "urgent action now". Of the seven main categories covered by the poll, including broad areas such as the level of "control" staff felt they had, De Montfort was given an amber grade in five and a red in one, getting a good score in one of the seven.

Of all the groups taking part, academics were the least satisfied with working conditions, although their responses were a slight improvement on those of two years ago. The need for urgent action was identified in areas including the extent to which staff felt able to cope with demands on their time, the level of control over the way they worked, levels of "emotionally demanding" work and support from colleagues.

Academics also gave low ratings to the respect they received from colleagues, to clarity over what was expected of them at work and the goals of their departments.

A De Montfort spokesman said: "We take the results of the survey seriously and are keen to ensure the wellbeing of our staff. We have implemented a university-wide 'wellbeing' group, which includes the university's trade union safety representatives, to promote employee wellbeing initiatives.

"We are also one of the first universities to have implemented a body map system, which enables the early identification of potential symptoms relating to stress. Our most recent staff survey showed that 79 per cent of staff would recommend the university as a good place to work."

From: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk

Kingston University - London

Kingston University is a concentration camp... hundreds of thousands of pounds are wasted in fighting legal cases against good academics who are being bullied out of their jobs. Does anybody care that a serial bully university is wasting money and resources in such a fashion? Does nobody have the decency to stand up to this monster bully and say 'enough is enough'? And so more and more continue to suffer, to be victimised, to be bullied out of their work - many work in fear, in a concentration camp that knows only one thing: to eliminate any dissent. No compassion, no empathy, no mediation... just fear... This is how Sir Peter Scott runs his show.

July 23, 2008

HEFCE and the Code of Conduct

We received from an anonymous post the following contribution:

In a HEFCE report from May 2007, titled 'Accountability for higher education institutions - New arrangements from 2008', I quote:

Code of governance
20. The financial statements include a statement on internal control and/or a corporate governance statement. We believe this should incorporate or clearly reflect the Code of Governance published by the Committee of University Chairmen (CUC), which all institutions say they have adopted. This provides external assurance that the effectiveness of corporate governance is subject to regular review, and thus adds confidence to the accountability returns generated by institutions.

Internal audit and audit committee annual reports

21. These reports are crucial in the accountability framework in that they provide the fundamental assurances to confirm that internal control is effective, and value for money is being achieved. We will require these returns to be submitted during December, ideally at the same time as the financial statements. Again, if individual institutions wish to submit these returns earlier in 2007 this would be welcomed. These reports should also reflect the CUC Code of Governance.

From the above it would seem that HEFCE strongly recommends that the CUC Code of Governance should apply to universities in terms of their financial dealings and audits, but does HEFCE require universities to adopt the CUC code of contact for the independent review of staff grievances?

I quote from the CUC Code of Governance for universities:

8.14 The Second Report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life recommended that institutions should establish a system of independent review for all staff, to be invoked when internal avenues for resolving a staff grievance have been exhausted. In pre-1992 HEIs which have a Visitor, this recommendation is partly met by the provision that complaints, other than in employment matters, may be determined by the Visitor on petition from a member of the HEI. This provision does not, however, cover all categories of staff because normally only academic staff, and in some instances academic-related staff, are classed as members of the HEI...

What is the HEFCE expectation(s) from post-1992 HEIs in terms of availability of systems of independent review of staff grievances?

8.15 The passage of the Human Rights Act in October 2000 has raised new questions about the need for independent review mechanisms, including whether the Visitor system, as currently operated, fully meets the Act's requirements. This matter is still under consideration by Universities UK and where the Visitorial powers are exercised on behalf of the Queen by the Privy Council or the Lord Chancellor's Department by the respective officers of the Crown themselves...

Universities UK do not seem to have released any information on this matter since 2000! Back to the original question, what systems (if any) of independent review of staff grievances exist in post-1992 HEIs?
Reply from HEFCE:

1) Does HEFCE require universities to adopt the CUC code of contact for the independent review of staff grievances?

No, HEFCE does not require universities to adopt the CUC code of conduct. This is explained in the Guide for Members of Higher Education Governing Bodies in the UK, November 2004/40a on page 5:

"This Code is voluntary and is intended to reflect good practice in a sector which comprises a large number of very diverse institutions. Institutions should state that they have regard to the Code, and where an institution's practices are not consistent with particular provisions of the Code an explanation shall be published in the corporate governance statement of the annual audited financial statements."

2) What is the HEFCE expectation(s) from post-1992 HEIs in terms of availability of systems of independent review of staff grievances?

We do not have specific expectation(s). As the guide explains in part II, 1.10 Human Resource Management:

"The governing body has responsibility for the institution's human resource and employment policy. This includes ensuring that pay and conditions of employment are properly determined and implemented for all categories of employee. The governing body is also responsible for appointing and setting the terms and conditions for the head of the institution and such other senior posts as it may from time to time determine."

3) What systems (if any) of independent review of staff grievances
exist in post-1992 HEIs?

Institutions are likely to have their own tailored systems. We have not conducted any studies on the various systems in place and as you have already noted the relevant sections from the 'Guide for Members of Higher Education Governing Bodies in the UK' November 2004/40 are part III, p.62 8.14 and 8.15.

Higher education institutions are legally independent corporate institutions. The governing body is responsible for ensuring the effective management of the institution and for planning its future development. It has ultimate responsibility for the affairs of the institution.
Thank you anonymous contributor... So, there you have it from the horse's mouth: HEFCE has not conducted any studies on the various systems in place; The governing body is responsible for ensuring the effective management of the institution, and HEFCE does not require universities to adopt the CUC code of conduct.

Workplace bullying in Loughborough University

This is an appeal to anyone who may have specific information about workplace bullying in Loughborough University.

If you know of specific instances or are able to provide details, we ask that you forward this information to us, which we will then forward to a journalist.

We will be VERY vigilant in ensuring the confidentiality of such reporting and will reveal as little or as much of the identify of the affected/reporting parties as desired.

Please forward your info to: bullied.academics@yahoo.co.uk

July 22, 2008

Researchers have no 'right' to study terrorist materials. Nottingham v-c warns that academics may face prosecution.

Academics have no "right" to research terrorist materials and they risk being prosecuted for doing so, the vice-chancellor of the University of Nottingham has told his staff.

In a statement issued to the university last week, Sir Colin Campbell says: "There is no 'right' to access and research terrorist materials. Those who do so run the risk of being investigated and prosecuted on terrorism charges. Equally, there is no 'prohibition' on accessing terrorist materials for the purpose of research. Those who do so are likely to be able to offer a defence to charges (although they may be held in custody for some time while the matter is investigated). This is the law and applies to all universities."

Sir Colin issued the statement to advise staff to note "additional points" that have emerged since the arrest in May of a Nottingham masters student and a clerk on suspicion of possessing extremist material.

The student, Rizwaan Sabir, who is studying Islamic terrorism, said he had downloaded a copy of an al-Qaeda training manual for use in his MA dissertation and PhD application and had forwarded it to the administrator, Hicham Yezza, for printing. After six days in detention, neither was charged.

Sir Colin referred to a letter of advice issued to Mr Sabir by the police after his release. The letter warned Mr Sabir that he risked re-arrest if found with the manual again and added: "The university authorities have now made clear that possession of this material is not required for the purpose of your course of study nor do they consider it legitimate for you to possess it for research purposes."

Sir Colin says in his statement: "It is understood that the police drafted this letter having considered all of the statements made by a range of university staff and they also consulted their legal advisers on it."

He adds: "We have been advised that the document in question was one which others have been arrested and prosecuted for possessing. Different versions of the 'al-Qaeda Training Manual' exist but in this case the document was an operational or tactical manual rather than a political or strategic document. The police are clear that such a document, which included detailed instructions, is therefore likely to be useful to someone preparing an act of terrorism."

Mr Sabir's personal tutor Bettina Renz, a lecturer in international security, and his MA supervisor, Rod Thornton, a terrorism specialist and former soldier, have both said they told police that Mr Sabir's possession of the document was legitimate given his research interests.

Since his release without charge, Mr Sabir has been accepted to study for a PhD in radical Islam at Nottingham under Dr Thornton's supervision. His doctorate application proposes an analysis of Islamic terrorists' military and political strategy "based on primary documents, including reports published by think-tanks and research centres and documentation published or released by Islamist groups (strategic and political statements, military manuals, group manifestos and charters)".

Mr Sabir insisted to Times Higher Education that he had downloaded his version of the al-Qaeda manual from a US government website and that it was still freely available on the internet. He said he was now unclear what he could and could not legitimately research for his PhD, given the police and the university's warning.

Vanessa Pupavac, lecturer in international relations at Nottingham, said: "The university suggests it is illegitimate to study the operational or the tactical as opposed to the political or strategic dimension of al-Qaeda." Scholars were interested in both dimensions, she argued. "A major theme of security studies is how the parties in the so-called war on terror lack clear political and strategic goals. Contemporary terrorism emphasises the operational and tactical over the political. Consider the 9/11 or 7/7 or the Beslan terrorists - their violent tactics were starkly evident, but their political and strategic goals were vague."

Nottingham's MA in international security and terrorism includes a module on terrorism and counterterrorism. Essay titles for this academic year include: "Choose one terrorist group and analyse its motivations, techniques, tactics and procedures" and "How is today's terrorism conducted?"

Sir Colin's statement says the university's response to the arrests and their aftermath "have been discussed at meetings of senate and council. Both bodies have fully endorsed the actions taken by the university."

Hicham Yezza, the clerk arrested with Rizwaan Sabir, was re-arrested on immigration-related grounds after his release and was due to be deported until proceedings were stayed pending judicial review.

From: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk

July 18, 2008

July 17, 2008

Divestors of People - The Hall of Shame

The Criteria

1. Lack of strategy to improve the under-performance of the institution. This does not exist, is not clearly defined, or is not communicated to staff.

2. There is lack of coherent investment in staff development.

3. Whatever strategies exist to manage staff, these are implemented to promote cronyism, incompetence, favoritism, or inequality, and to disguise management failures.

4. The capabilities managers need to learn and manage staff are not defined. Managers received little or no training to improve their communication, behaviour and people skills.

5. Managers are ineffective in leading, managing, and developing staff. High levels of over-management or under-management.

6. Staff are not encouraged to take ownership and responsibility through involvement in decision-making. There is no accountability and transparency in the decision making process.

7. Staff are demorilised, de-skilled or demoted. The working environment is toxic.

8. Lack of improvements in managing people is chronic.

9. The working environment shows high levels of work-related stress.

10. Internal grievance procedures are used selectively by managers - against staff. Some managers are untouchable despite their failures.

11. Staff report high levels of bullying and harassment by managers. Fear prevails among the silent majority.

12. The governing body is detached from the staff and is in the same bed with the management. Governors show no visible interest in the affairs of the staff.

Nominations are open to all staff in all universities. Institutions qualify for the ‘Divestors of People’© award if they meet at least 50% of the above criteria and this can be verified by at least two different staff members from the same organisation. Nominators can remain anonymous.

Conditions for a university or college to be removed from the Hall of Shame

* Public admission of wrongdoing.

* Public promise to correct wrongdoings by changes in personnel (including getting rid of the bullies and reinstating the targets, if they wish to be).

* Public apologies to all targets.

* Payment of compensation to targets of bullies, especially providing guaranteed private medical
coverage for life to all targets affected.

* Setting up a scholarship/bursary fund aimed at deserving undergrad/postgrad students who have shown courage in standing up to larger forces in the name of justice.

* Public recognition of staff who stood up against the bullies and supported the target.

* Removal of Governors who failed to act.

Check the Hall of Shame.

The Abilene Paradox - Why Team Members Won't or Can't Help

The Abilene Paradox - Why Team Members Won't or Can't Help

If groups (call them work teams) are powerful enough to bend individuals to their will, to get inside individuals' heads and make them doubt their own competence, to make them do things that hurt themselves, then logic would dictate that fellow workers who see a bully hurting someone would run to the rescue. Right? Wrong!

The strange tale of people acting in groups and influencing individuals now gets stranger. For many reasons, people witnessing the injustice of workplace bullying rarely act. They either will not act, by choice, or can not act, for reasons often unknown to them and to the target who could certainly use their help...

Abilene Paradox

Jerry Harvey honored his Texas roots when he named this phenomenon. The group dynamic is perhaps the most relevant to understanding why bullies can be witnessed by so many people and still get away with it.
Imagine a committee of bright people making a stupid decision. We know from talking with each person alone that each and every one of them thinks it's a stupid thing to do. When the committee votes, however, they choose to do the stupid thing!

Later, usually much later, when the decision backfires, the committee tears itself apart in its search for a culprit. The group desperately needs someone or something to blame, long after the very preventable decision was made.
This describes a group in agreement, not in conflict. They all agree privately, and individually, about the true state of affairs. They do not communicate their feelings to one another, however. Then publicly, in the presence of each other, they all deny the agreement that they don't know exists among them. That's the paradox: private vs. public versions of reality. In fact, this is the mismanagement of agreement, not disagreement. It's all made possible by a public silence regarding what each individual knows to be true. Sound like where you work?

Take the bullying example. All the co-workers of the bully's target know what is happening. If interviewed alone and free from retaliation, each would deplore the obvious pain the target is experiencing. However, in group settings, even without the bully present, they don't do the right thing. When together, they don't plan how to use their group power to overcome a lone bully. Instead, they ignore the rampant mistreatment by not communicating their positions or feelings publicly.

If the target later pursues legal action and investigators on her behalf interview the team that made up the hostile environment, the finger pointing begins.
Why does this happen?

Jerry Harvey traces it to people's overblown negative fantasies. That is, they imagine the worst possible, riskiest outcome from confronting the bully--they would lose their jobs, the bully would turn on them, they would have a heart attack, the bully would kill their children, and so on. With a mind full of negative thoughts like these, mostly about events that would never occur, the individuals act very conservatively as a group. As a group, they want to take no risk. So, they do the wrong thing, all for lack of talking about it openly. They let bad things happen to the target that they believe, as individuals, should not happen. Sick? No, simply human nature's aversion to risk thanks to an exaggerated imagination that limits thinking about possibilities.

"Abilene" is the Texas city in the Abilene paradox. It refers to the retelling by Harvey of a lousy decision by his family. On a hot summer day, the family piled into a car without airconditioning and drove too many to Abilene to try a new diner. The heat was oppressive; the food was lousy. But no one dared to speak in those terms until later that night back home. Finally, the matriarch of the family broke the silence by complaining about the food. Then everyone chimed in with their complaint--the car was hot, it was stupid to try an unknown restaurant.

It turns out that no one wanted to go in the first place, but no one said so when it mattered. Eventually, they all blamed the father for suggesting the drive.
To Harvey, whenever a group is about to do the wrong thing, despite knowing it's the wrong thing, it is a group "on the road to Abilene."

Silent, inactive witnesses to the bullying of others is a group "on the road to Abilene.

From: Workplace Bullying Institute

July 16, 2008

The Seven Principles of Pulbic Life - Higher Education

From: Summary of Nolan Committee's Second Report (1996)

Summary of the Nolan Committee's First Report on Standards in Public Life

Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.

Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.

In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.

Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.

Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.

Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.

Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.

These principles apply to all aspects of public life. The Committee has set them out here for the benefit of all who serve the public in any way.

Higher and Further Education

The systems of governance in the higher and further education sectors reflect both the origins of the institutions and of recent legislation. The 'old' universities are governed by charter or specific Act of Parliament. Former polytechnics became 'new' universities as a result of the 1992 Further and Higher Education Act, which also set down the system of governance for further education institutions. In addition to providing resources, funding councils for the sectors have a role in regulation and dissemination of best practice.

Many of the institutions have evolved systems of governance over many years and it would require evidence of substantial misconduct to justify sweeping changes. We received no such evidence. However, we urge institutions to review their practices and procedures in the light of best practice identified in this report. We believe it is particularly important for institutions to follow best practice in limiting the use made of commercial confidentiality and in explaining themselves to their communities.

While the principle of academic freedom is applicable to the right of individuals to pursue research and express opinions without political pressure, it does not justify a lower level of accountability for higher education institutions. Our recommendations on confidentiality clauses, appeals, disputes and whistleblowing tackle those aspects of academic freedom which are relevant to our terms of reference.

R3. Appointments to the governing bodies of universities and colleges should be made on the basis of merit, subject to the need to achieve a balance of relevant skills and backgrounds on the board.

R4. The automatic representation of the TECs and LECs on college governing bodies should be ended.

R5. Individual universities and colleges should be encouraged to set out key information to a common standard in their annual reports or equivalent documents where they do not already do so. Material on governance should be included in the annual reports or equivalents of further and higher education institutions. Representative bodies should take the lead in promoting this with the support of the funding councils.

R6. Representative bodies, with the help of the funding councils, should produce a common standard of good practice on the limits of commercial confidentiality, and should encourage all institutions to be as open as possible subject to those limits. All institutions should have publicly available registers of interests.

R7. Institutions of higher and further education should make it clear that the institution permits staff to speak freely and without being subject to disciplinary sanctions or victimisation about academic standards and related matters, providing that they do so lawfully, without malice, and in the public interest.

R8. Where it is absolutely necessary to include confidentiality clauses in service and severance contracts, they should expressly remind staff that legitimate concerns about malpractice may be raised with the appropriate authority (the funding council, National Audit Office, Visitor, or independent review body as applicable) if this is done in the public interest.

R9. Students in higher education institutions should be able to appeal to an independent body, and this right should be reflected in the Higher Education Charters.

R10. The higher education funding councils, institutions, and representative bodies should consult on a system of independent review of disputes. A similar process of consultation should be undertaken by the equivalent further education bodies.

R11. The Secretary of State for Education and Employment should re-examine the practice of appointing vice-chancellors and principals of English institutions to the board of HEFCE to determine whether an alternative exists, which avoids perceived conflicts of interest, and to ensure that existing rules protect against any potential conflict of interest as the council is presently constituted.
From: The Association of University Administrators (promoting excellence in HE management), revised July 7, 2005

University administrators must strike a balance between the needs of a number of stakeholders. They are responsible in many ways for the welfare of our institutions, for the interests of staff and students...

The seven principles will not have an impact unless everyone from board level down understands the framework of behaviours that is expected of them...

Individual values can be put to the test as a result of a tension with the corporate values of the institution as a result, for example, of:

  • pressure to cross the threshold between exploiting the rules of funding regimes and unacceptable misrepresentation of data

  • the intensification of competition internationally not only for students but also for research achievement

  • the development of extreme forms of managerialism

  • the increased emphasis on PR, marketing and presentation, and the extent to which this can lead to pressures for inaccurate 'spin' and 'hype'...

  • The work of the Nolan (now Neill) Committee on Standards in Public Life, emphasises the need for all those working in higher education to observe the highest standards of professionalism. The... code of professional standards is a welcome development in achieving and sustaining this goal...

    July 13, 2008

    The canary down the mine: what whistleblowers' health tells us about their environment

    The typical whistleblower's health is very poor. In a survey I did in 1993, reported in the British Medical Journal (1), 29 of the 35 subjects had an average of 3.6 symptoms at the time of the survey. Though high, this was less than the average of 5.3 at the time they blew the whistle. The most common were difficulty sleeping, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and feelings of guilt and unworthiness. They also suffered from nervous diarrhoea, trouble breathing, stomach problems, loss of appetite, loss of weight, high blood pressure, palpitations, hair loss, grinding teeth, nightmares, headaches, tiredness, weeping, tremor, urinary frequency, 'stress', and 'loss of trust'. Fifteen subjects (i.e. over half of those with symptoms) were now on medication they had not been on before blowing the whistle - for depression, stomach ulcers, and high blood pressure.

    The reason for this poor state of health is clear. They had suffered intense victimization at work, being made redundant, demoted, dismissed, or pressured to resign; their position was abolished, or they were transferred. While still in the workplace they were isolated, physically and personally; were given impossible tasks to perform, menial work, or no work at all; were subjected to constant scrutiny and verbal abuse, forced to see psychiatrists, threatened with defamation actions and disciplinary actions; were constantly criticised, fined, subjected to internal inquiries, adverse reports; and received death and other threats. The most common outcome was to resign because of ill health caused by the victimization. The treatment they receive appears to be standard, and is described in more detail, for example, by Bill de Maria in his large survey of Queensland whistleblowers. (2)

    As a result of what happened they also suffered severe financial loss. Only eight of the 35 subjects had not suffered any loss of income; in twelve cases their income was reduced by over 75%. They faced large medical, other, and particularly legal costs, and in over half the cases their estimated total financial loss was in hundreds of thousands of dollars...

    It has become clear that we can, even without doing further formal studies of the organization, learn a great deal about it from an examination of the whistleblower's health and the organization's reactions to it. This brings us to the canary, used for detecting toxic or explosive gases in coal-mines, before there was a better way to do it. More sensitive to such gases than humans, they would collapse long before the miners were affected, and a collapsed canary was therefore a signal to the miners to get out immediately, and to management to look at the problem and clean up the mine. If we think of the victimized whistleblower as a poisoned canary - and clearly there are strong parallels here - the typical reaction of management is interesting and instructive. They don't say 'we've got a problem here, let's fix it before we have a disaster', but start bad-mouthing the canary. It has a personality disorder, they say, or is faking it to get compo; was sick before it went down the mine; or - more simply - is a no-good ratbag troublemaker.

    Just as the victimization that causes the canary to collapse is standard from one organization, state, or even country to another, so is management's explanation for the canary's state of health. And remembering what the canary's state really means to the mine and those in it, the response is not at all what we would expect from a manager who cared about the miners, or even about the reputation and hence the profits of the company. But the reaction to the canary is representative of the organization's response as a whole. Typically the response is orchestrated and powerful - 'crushing' is the word most victims use to describe it. It usually involves the whistleblower's union or other potential supports, and it rewards the deviant(s) while penalizing the whistleblower. The pattern seen now in hundreds of cases shows this classical response means the activity the whistle was blown on is endemic and tacitly accepted within the organization...

    Other indicators of widespread involvement of the bureaucratic system are the standard techniques used to cover up. Word-processor 'stuff-off' letters are the rule, as is a 3 to 6-month delay in replying. Threats of defamation suits are used to keep impecunious whistleblowers quiet, while rich and powerful organizations defame them with impunity - in quiet chats and secret memos, negative work and medical reports, confidential Board and Cabinet minutes, and in Parliament. The legal system's delays are used to the full, so the issues cannot be publicly discussed for years because they are 'sub judice', then can't be exposed because they are no longer news. There are phony 'inquiries', by people appointed by the employer, and dependent on them for further employment. Sometimes the 'wrong' person is appointed, and does a proper job regardless, but more often they do what they are paid to do...

    From: http://www.uow.edu.au/arts/sts/bmartin/dissent/documents/Lennane_canary.html

    July 11, 2008

    Warning: chronic bullying is hazardous to the academy's health

    Stress and harassment cost the sector millions of pounds in lost work days and feed a culture of human misery, says Sally Hunt.

    I first encountered bullying in higher education when I was a regional official. I was astounded to discover that the problem was worse than in the stereotypically tough world of banking, where I had worked before. University and College Union surveys suggest that the problem still blights our sector.

    More than one third of respondents to a UCU survey last year found bullying by their managers to be at "very stressful" levels, and another 2007 survey, by Jeremy Waddington for UCU, listed bullying and/or harassment as the most common concern among the 4,000 UCU members polled. Professor Waddington said the UCU was the only union of all those he had surveyed over the years that cited bullying as the issue most likely to be brought to the attention of branch officials.

    Bullying is not only stressful for the individual concerned, it is also costly to the employer and, in higher education, detrimental to staff and students. The Department of Health reported that, overall, an average of 3.6 per cent of a company or organisation's salary budget is paid to people absent from work due to stress-related illness; moreover, the Health and Safety Executive has said that bullying is a key element in stress-related workplace illness and costs employers millions of lost days every year. Worryingly, stress-related illness and absence levels in education are substantially above the national average.

    The UCU has taken bold steps to get to the root of the problem. We will continue to support individuals who are subjected to bullying and harassment but, perhaps more importantly, we will be challenging the policy and funding contexts that license bullying behaviour.

    The impact on the individual is often compounded in those institutions that refuse to recognise the problem. Colleagues who may be in a position to help are more likely to keep silent through fear of reprisal and are unwilling to offer statements criticising the university.

    Often those colleagues are also suffering at the hands of bullies as well, but they feel unable to come forward. Unless there are people prepared to break the silence and to refuse to continue to suffer, whole departments and even institutions can continue to get away with a bullying culture and will never be forced to address the problem.

    In the academy, grinding people down through a macho culture dressed up as natural selection is still prevalent. Staff who wish to enjoy some sort of work-life balance or a career break to bring up a family should not be dismissed as being weak.

    The aggressive nature of the research assessment exercise served to highlight this very problem. Women who took career breaks to have children, for example, were less likely to be counted as research active. Although the 2001 RAE had warm words about staff who have taken maternity leave or other career breaks not being discriminated against, the raw data suggested otherwise.

    The issues raised by the RAE affect all academics, not just women, because it was an inherently flawed way of allocating funding that created job insecurity and competition when what the sector needed was a culture of long-term stability and teamwork.

    I think it is a source of great shame for UK higher education that only the hotel and catering sector employs a greater percentage of staff on temporary contracts. The widespread use of fixed-term contracts is the unacceptable underbelly of higher education.

    Despite specific guidance agreed by the employers and trade unions to discourage the abuse of fixed-term contracts, universities seem to be ignoring it and persisting with short-term and short-sighted employment practices.

    The best brains in Britain can find themselves trapped in positions of insecurity, with their only real alternative lying in jobs abroad or outside higher education. It is these employees who, understandably, will rarely have the courage to speak out, and it is often they who require the greatest support.

    It is precisely this culture that needs to be addressed in our universities. I am not advocating, as I read recently, a "boo-hoo" culture ("Infantilised students and staff rapped", Times Higher Education, 12 June). I want to see an environment where talent is nurtured, rather than crushed, and where what you can do, rather than the extra hours you can put in, is truly valued.

    The UCU considers bullies to be health-and-safety hazards, who should be risk assessed and then prevented from being dangers to their colleagues. There are some higher education institutions that treat bullying and harassment as a serious problem. However, there are still too many that do not. Whatever the reason, it is inexcusable for those institutions to carry on in that vein, and the UCU will not tolerate it.

    Postscript: Sally Hunt is general secretary, University and College Union.

    From: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk
    11 July, 2008

    And this from the general secretary who allows her own officials, both paid and voluntary, to bully those who would stand up for justice and fair play, and from a union that has just approved a change at a university that permits those suffering from work-related stress and depression to be stigmatised and differentiated upon their return to work, from others who are signed off sick for prolonged periods. Such hypocrisy is totally unacceptable, but regrettably the norm for this union.
    Please contribute your own comments on the UCU role on workplace bullying in higher education, by visiting The Times Higher Education and adding your comment at the bottom of the article.

    July 10, 2008

    And the winner is... Loughborough University

    Loughborough University awarded Divestors of People standard.

    At 1:33 PM , Anonymous said...

    Couldn't agree more about Loughborough. The policies are not worth the pixels it takes to show them on the web page. (They don't give you a hard copy to save trees apparently!)

    Management is a shambles, complainants are "exterminated" and serial bullies are allowed off with a counselling session at best.

    Staff in some depts live in fear of being the next victim as they see another person go on long term work related stress sick leave and then never come back.

    Morale is through the roof and yes most staff wonder how on earth we do so well in these awards.
    LU is the most shambolic place I have ever worked.

    Worse still they keep bleating on about how they want to be a fabulous employer, sending round surveys about stress and bullying etc, setting up working groups running the dreaded PD sessions but missing the all important bit about feeding back the findings to staff and the DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

    P.S. If LU win please let the Loughborough Echo know I would love to see that story in print
    Anonymous said...

    I wish nominate Loughborough University under the following categories from your list:

    2. Loughborough has a doctrinaire and patronising 3-year probation system that ignores staff's previous work experience and particularly works against those from overseas, women who have had career breaks and people who have entered acadaemia as a second career. It is basically a big stick to hit staff with for the RAE. Probationary staff have to produce 2 RAE outputs for each year of probation. Highly experienced people find themselves having to attend staff development courses aimed at the needs of teaching assistants and new lecturers. Written from a limited disciplinary standpoint (usually engineering), they are rolled out across the whole of the university, whether or not they're relevant.

    3. Every word of 3 applies. There are few women in senior positions. Many women compain of institutionalised sexism. The long hours culture discriminates against those with family and caring responsibiities.

    4. The fact that Loughborough runs a course on emotional intelligence for managers says it all. It appears to have little impact.

    5. Junior staff are over-managed and intimidated, particularly in regard to RAE output. Conversely many long-serving members of staff receive virtually no career development and are given no encouragement to apply for promotion. Needless to say, many of the latter are women. New workload agreements, which have cut teaching contact hours, have produced high levels of stress amongst staff due to having to deliver the same material in less time and consequent falling standards (which are of course blamed on staff) and student complaints.

    6. Decisions are made in authoritarian and undemocractic ways, despite a plethora of committees. Staff constantly complain about meddling in their research and a lack of understanding of work that is outside of the dominant disciplines in the university.

    7. Staff are extremely demoralised. Long-standing members of staff are routinely threatened with teaching-only contracts. No recognition is given to outstanding teachers. Furthermore, such is the pressure for research that teaching is regarded as a nuisance and increasingly given over to postgraduates, many of them MA students. Undergraduates complain bitterly about reduced contact time (see above). How, Loughborough is no 1 in the student experience chart is a mystery to staff.

    8. Management has gone from bad to worse and staff are afraid to speak out.

    9. There are huge levels of work-related stress. HR lets cases reach crisis point when early intervention and mediation might have resolved issues. Confidential information about complainants is often disclosed by HR to devastating effect. The return to work policy, although sound in principle, is often not properly implemented.

    10. Internal grievance and disciplinary procedures are used to silence staff, often as a pre-emptive strike to discredit them before they can make their own complaint.

    11. Every word applies

    July 08, 2008

    Lest we forget...








    Games vs. Politics - How to Deal with the Difference

    We often think about "playing the game" — either with relish or repugnance. Whatever your level of skill or interest, you'll do better if you see workplace politics as it is. It is not a game.

    We all know that workplace politics can affect our level of success and even happiness. Whatever your skill level, you'll do better if you recognize that workplace politics isn't a game in the usual sense. Understanding how it differs from sports or parlor games can enhance your chances of success.

    Games vs. Politics - How to Deal with the Difference
    • A real game has rules that everyone follows. In politics, the rules change and they're open to interpretation.

    • Appealing to precedent or to others' sense of fairness doesn't work. Think beyond precedent.

    • A real game has referees and judges. In workplace politics, there are no officials and there is no appeals process. Participants do whatever makes sense to them.

    • Seeking justice is a waste of time. Instead, try to achieve your goals by staying within your own ethics.

    • A real game has periods of play and rest — four quarters, nine innings, half time, a seventh inning stretch. Workplace politics is 24/7. It can be an extreme endurance test.

    • Monitor your own energy reserves. Avoid being consumed by the passions of the action. Rest when you can.

    • A real game has finite duration — eventually, the game ends. Workplace politics is endless. As long as the organization exists, and you work there, you participate in its politics.

    • Be aware that people might remember anything you do. Don't do anything you would want to cover up later. Even if you're never discovered, the knowledge can be a burden.

    • A real game has fixed teams of uniformed players. In workplace politics, there might be alliances, but they're changeable, and you can't always tell who's on which team. Some people play for multiple teams.

    • Even people you trust can be more loyal to themselves than to you. You yourself might someday have to do something like that. Understand and accept that this can happen, and that we all do the best we can.

    • In a real game, the teams are similar in size, structure and mission. Each team scores in roughly the same way. In workplace politics, the factions differ markedly in size, power, and mission.

    • The resources available to political alliances are unique and unpredictable. Success depends on learning to use what you have, rather than acquiring what you think you need.

    • A real game has spectators who watch but who don't actually play. In workplace politics, there are no spectators — we're all affected by what happens. Some of us participate actively, some passively, but we all participate.

    • Playing for the audience is futile — most people are too busy with their own stuff to watch you. Only one person is truly worth impressing — yourself. Behave in ways you can be proud of.

    • Politics and games are similar in one important way — winning a game requires skills specific to that game. To be successful politically, we must learn to see things as they are. And we can begin by realizing that workplace politics is not a game.
    From: http://www.chacocanyon.com/pointlookout/010307.shtml

    July 05, 2008

    A letter to Sally Hunt (Moran, Blumsohn)

    Sally Hunt is currently General Secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), and the last General Secretary of the Association of University Teachers (UK) prior to its merger with NATFHE to form the UCU. The below letter from Rhetta Moran and myself is self explanatory. See also this and this for some background.

    For pdf version of letter and attachments see here. For many other UK cases involving AUT/UCU/NAFTHE inaction see the extensive Bullied Academics blog

    From: http://scientific-misconduct.blogspot.com/2008/07/letter-to-sally-hunt-moran-blumsohn.html

    Rhetta Moran, David Healy - and the language of academic bullying

    My friend Rhetta Moran was fired from Salford University (a "greater" Manchester University) in 2005 under very unusual circumstances.

    There are fascinating linguistic aspects of sham university procedures and integrity scandals. Rhetta's research was said to be "no longer compatible with the school".

    A key problem facing academia in the UK is the lack of any plausible institution that speaks up for integrity and the values of a university. As Rhetta states, "One would have though that the idea of "compatible" or "incompatible" research would be something that should interest an academic union".

    This brief summary of Rhetta's story serves as a prelude to my next post about a joint letter we wrote to Sally Hunt about the dismal integrity failures of the Association of University Teachers (AUT). Hunt is currently General Secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), and the last General Secretary of the AUT the merger with NATFHE to form the UCU.

    The idea of "incompatible" research formed a key part of the scandalous firing of Professor David Healy at the University of Toronto. Following a lecture during which Healy expressed concerns about the integrity of pharmaceutical research, Dr. David Goldbloom fired him, stating that : "We believe that it is not a good fit between you and the role as leader of an academic program in mood and anxiety disorders at the Centre and in relation to the University. This view was solidified by your recent appearance at the Centre in the context of an academic lecture. While you are held in high regard as a scholar of the history of modem psychiatry, we do not feel your approach is compatible with the goals for development of the academic and clinical resource that we have."

    In contrast to supine academic unions in the UK, some other academic unions (most notably the Canadian Association of University Teachers) have acted vigorously to defend many academics confronted by important assaults on integrity.

    I will let Rhetta introduce herself:

    Dr Rhetta Moran, 1 July 2008

    I was dismissed by the University of Salford under unusual circumstances in 2005 following a previously successful academic career. During the previous year, I had been the lead investigator in a publicly funded project (Salford RAPAR SRB5) which was designed to collate accurate information about housing, health, employment, economic, personal safety and education problems involving people seeking asylum. The project was funded through the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. Clearly this was a contentious project.

    No factually plausible reasons for my dismissal as an academic under such circumstances have ever been provided. Employers appear to exercise the right to dismiss staff on the most thinly constructed grounds, or even no grounds at all, such as unspecified research "incompatibility". The university returned all grant funds including a newly obtained one (£192,316) from the European Social Fund.

    I have learned that legal structures designed to deal with employment disputes have almost no relevance to academic integrity. Neither, unfortunately, did the Association of University Teachers (AUT).

    We now know that the PCT Chief Executive, Mike Burrows, wrote to my "boss" Professor Michael Harloe and told him I was being removed from leadership of the research in April 2004. This was very shortly after a newspaper article appeared in the Observer. In this article (March 28, 2004) the Observer described how young asylum-seeking women were having to go underground in Salford. Drawing on work and contacts provided by myself, it cited me as follows:
    People have been dumped in Salford, but without resources,' says Dr Rhetta Moran, a senior research fellow at the Revans Institute with overall responsibility for the Salford RAPAR project. 'There was no additional support for local practitioners. There is not one immigration solicitor in the whole city. And it leads to bitterness because this is a place where locals have been making their own demands on the council for years.
    Other staff employed on the project were threatened with immediate suspension for gross misconduct if they had anything to do with me. It appears that there was an attempt to induce staff to accuse me of bullying, but they declined to do so. The following month I received a letter of dismissal John Dobson, who advised that my research was no longer "compatible" with the school. Dobson as it happens is also the current President of Salford University UCU.

    This lack of "compatibility" was never explained.

    One would have though that the idea of "compatible" or "incompatible" research would be something that should interest an academic union. The AUT attempted to induce to me to go along with a sham process as well as a gag agreement while ignoring every principle involved. Their silence has been deafening.

    The university then stated that the reason for my dismissal was because I was "redundant" - a truly marvellous tautology.

    I was finally sacked in January 2005, the day before the Deputy Prime Minister announced the opening of the Central Salford Urban Regeneration Company, in which my former boss Vice Chancellor, Michael Harloe has major involvement.

    It is not clear whether any "incompatibility" might be down to fear of research or academic discussion that a City Council or conflicted academic leadership would find uncomfortable. It would be good to know.

    From: http://scientific-misconduct.blogspot.com/2008/07/rhetta-moran-david-healy-and-language.html

    July 04, 2008

    Academic to be disciplined for offering extra lessons

    An academic is facing disciplinary action for giving his students extra tuition in his spare time. Bernard H Casey ran the refresher session to give undergraduates additional help at the end of an economics course. But now he has been warned by Birkbeck, University of London, that the extra lessons broke university rules - and may have had a "detrimental impact" on students.

    Dr Casey, an economics lecturer, has been summoned to an official disciplinary hearing where he faces an official reprimand. Bernard H Casey ran the refresher session to give undergraduates additional help at the end of an economics course.

    Dr Casey, an economics lecturer, has been summoned to an official disciplinary hearing where he faces an official reprimand. Fellow academics branded the action "ludicrous" and said universities were becoming bogged down in bureaucracy.

    The row erupted when senior staff at Birkbeck decided to cut Dr Casey's course in quantitative economic methods from 24 to 22 weeks.

    He decided to offer students an extra session at the end of the course to go over any outstanding questions - and asked officials at Birkbeck for room for up to two hours. But he was told by a senior manager that he must stick to the designated 22 sessions allocated for the module.

    Dr Casey told Times Higher Education magazine: "The reply was 'no'. I talked to the students and said, look, this is a bit silly, but let's hold a session anyway. A colleague arranged a room, and we went along and did it."

    But when officials at the university found out they launched an investigation. A series of emails passed between Dr Casey and senior staff reveal how he has now been ordered to attend a disciplinary hearing.

    He was told: "The purpose of this meeting is to establish if your decision to hold a revision class was in violation of instruction from line management. In addition the investigation will consider the potential detrimental impact on the students taking the course."

    Senior managers also demanded to know how many students took part and what costs were involved.

    Dr Casey refused to name students at the "illegal" class. He insisted he had incurred travel costs "and purchased a cup of tea", but would not make an expenses claim. The decision to pursue disciplinary action is thought to have been motivated by his refusal to follow university rules.

    Dr Casey, who actually works at another university and teaches part-time at Birkbeck, said: "The problem with Birkbeck is that it's stacking itself up with extraordinary amounts of admin staff and reducing teaching staff, but that's a standard story these days,"

    Birkbeck refused to comment while disciplinary procedures continued. But other academics said the move underlined the extent to which lecturers were being undermined by bureaucracy.

    UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: "Education professionals consistently top tables of the most unpaid overtime put in each year. The dedication of staff to their subject and their students, whilst often exploited, remains astonishing. We cannot build a world class education sector on the exploitation of staff, but to suggest we punish, rather than reward, those who continue to show such dedication is ludicrous."

    From: http://www.telegraph.co.uk

    July 03, 2008

    What goes around will come around eventually...

    Anonymous said:

    I believe that these psychopaths do not so much create clones as end up with only those who admire them or can stomach working for them.

    I was a manager in a department where somehow, though a lot of movement in the organisation, we ended up with a number of
    senior managers who all knew each other from way back when and who all had the same nasty temperament.

    I kept a low profile and they must have thought I was going along fine because I was called into my managers' office one day and told that he had two jobs for me. The first was to increase the workload on part time working women to get them to either quit or accept a permanent full-time position, the second was to regularly change the schedule of a specific worker with mental illness and then to document "evidence of his incompetence" so that he could be dismissed by these managers who felt uncomfortable working with him. They knew that this man did not deal well with changes to his routine and that this could possibly lead to him having another breakdown, but they did not care. He was a good, quiet worker, who did his job well and I had no problems with him.

    When I made it clear to them that I would resist any attempts by them to unlawfully dismiss this person I became an outcast myself and was mercilessly bullied. I simply refused to quit or move on (sheer bloody
    stubbornness at their cheek to try and ruin my career) until I came back from annual leave one day to find I'd been moved to a new department during my absence under the guise of it being a "development opportunity". I'd mentioned once, somewhere in an appraisal, that I would like to spend some time in that department and this was used as a reason for moving me from my role into a secondment in a junior role. My salary was the same and although I resented it I decided to take advantage of the opportunity offered and excelled in my new role, was offered a permanent position in the new department and now, 4 years later, I am doing very well thank you, while that lot have all left for one reason or another.

    If your organisation is not totally rotten what goes around will come around eventually.

    Columbia University awarded Divestors of People Standard

    Columbia University awarded Divestors of People Standard.
    Academic bullying, or “mobbing,” is common at Columbia University — especially in the “pink collar” departments (e.g. social work, education). It’s impossible to fight because it’s completely a part of the culture here. The sad thing is that we lose the best doctoral students as a result because they see this nonsense for what it is. If they fight it, we get rid of them. Or, if they’re tired, they just leave.

    It’s a crime of epic proportions and very few people are talking about it.

    — Columbia Prof Jun 26, 11:55 AM
    Academic bullying, or “mobbing,” is common at Columbia University — especially in the “pink collar” departments (e.g. social work, education). It’s impossible to fight because it’s completely a part of the culture here.

    This is a very perceptive observation (about the “pink collar” departments as places prone to a bullying culture). At Columbia the Madonna Constantine case is surely a classic example. This can spread to other parts of a campus via divisions of Student Affairs, which have their cultural origin in programs like social work and education. One only has to look at the controlling culture of Student Affairs programs (speech codes, behavior codes, thought control, emotional manipulation) to see that this has less to do with politics per se and everything to do with psychological bullying.

    — Student Affairs Observer Jun 28, 10:58 PM
    At Columbia, a colleague reported the social work school to the Fed for grant fraud. She had four boxes of evidence.

    Meanwhile, the wife of one of the adjuncts (who had some lowly clerical/clinical position) befriended this colleague. This “wife” reported everything she was told to the deans.

    Long story short, this wife now has a faculty position and our colleague was raked over the coals (e.g. she had a sick family member and the school threatened her with eviction from Columbia housing).

    Higher ed is one nasty business.

    — Another Columbia Prof Jul 2, 11:25 AM