October 30, 2008

Avoiding Academe's Ax Murderers

Many years ago when I directed a doctoral program in my discipline, I invited a celebrated scholar to hold a daylong "master class" for a select number of senior graduate students. He lectured for a few hours and then opened the session to questions. "Dr. Famous," one student asked, "what do we need to know to survive our first year as assistant professors?"

A notorious enfant terrible, our mischievous guest stunned everyone with his reply: "Remember that every department has at least one ax murderer, but you won't know in advance who it is so you'd better be on your guard."

While our guest was clearly playing to his audience for a laugh, he was also articulating what has become a lamentable fact of faculty life: Many academics regularly engage in a kind of "gotcha" politics.

The propensity to pounce ruthlessly on a politically wounded colleague is rapidly becoming a favorite spectator sport in academe. I am continually astonished by the gusto with which some faculty members will leap to attack a colleague at the slightest hint of an allegation of misconduct, even when the accused is a close friend. Or by how vigorously some department chairs will initiate proceedings against a faculty member when informal discussions might have resolved the issue in question.

Over the years, I have served on or presided over inquiry panels convened to determine whether a complaint against a professor had merit. Invariably there would be a point in the proceedings — usually early on and before all the evidence had been considered — when some faculty member would pronounce indignantly that the accused was clearly guilty and that we should recommend the maximum penalty available. "He most certainly made an offensive remark in class; he should be suspended for at least a semester." Or, "She undoubtedly falsified her research results; she should be stripped of all future institutional support." Or, "This is clearly plagiarism; he should be fired immediately."

Although such pronouncements were always made solemnly, I could not help but detect a certain underlying glee — the kind you might find when a parent catches a child misbehaving.

When guilt is assigned before all the evidence and perspectives are heard, when the verdict is swift but premature, and when the recommended penalty is the most draconian available, we have entered the zone of gotcha politics. That zone has no room for judicious deliberation, reasoned debate, or compassion — which makes it especially out of place in an institution that has historically prided itself on championing reason, deliberation, and justice.

Undoubtedly, predatory behavior in the academic world is a convenient means of crippling or eliminating rivals. Why not accelerate your opponents' demise by advocating strenuously against them if the opportunity presents itself?

A business dean told me that one of his faculty members had become convinced that a popular associate professor regularly altered his teaching evaluations by slipping into the department late at night after students had returned their evaluation forms and removing any negative ones. The incensed colleague mounted a vigorous campaign against the associate professor, whose reputation was ruined in the process. Everyone in the college believed he was guilty. As it turned out, an extensive investigation proved conclusively that the professor was innocent; no tampering had occurred whatsoever.

The same people who are quick to ascribe guilt are often the first to violate confidentiality and fuel the engine of gossip and innuendo, which can, in effect, render irrelevant any official finding in the case. An individual may be exonerated in the end but found guilty in the popular imagination.

A favorite gambit of those who engage in such vicious politics is to enlist a student — preferably a graduate student — to do their dirty work. They will urge the student to file a complaint against a rival or spread malicious gossip. In fact, it is not uncommon to discover after some scrutiny that a student's letter of complaint against a professor was actually penned by another professor.

Gotcha politics are particularly brutal when they involve anonymity. A number of my fellow deans across the country tell me they are continually shocked by the viciousness with which some faculty members attack their chairs in end-of-year written evaluation surveys. Some evaluations contain abusive diatribes and preposterous allegations, all based on the flimsiest of evidence (or just on gossip).

University administrators regularly receive anonymous letters purporting to reveal some grievous act by a faculty member: This one has plagiarized; that one is sleeping with students; another is misusing grant money. Rarely does the anonymous revelation provide specific facts and details, much less do so in a coolly objective tone. More often it takes the form of a rant with little specificity.

The ever-increasing influence of blogs has exacerbated the problem. Blogs foster a culture of anonymity and unchecked expression without accountability. Bloggers can write whatever they want, regardless of the damage to others, and they can do so fully protected by the cloak of secrecy. In some universities, blogs dedicated to unseating the institution's president have proved quite effective. In response, some university presidents have instituted their own blogs and have made them easily accessible from the institution's Web site.

The kind of predatory politics I am describing thrive on righteous indignation and, as such, are self-serving: If you are in a position to renounce some perceived indiscretion or act of wrongdoing, then you can feel — at least to yourself — morally superior. No need to consider possible extenuating circumstances or alternate interpretations of the facts. After all, you have the high ground.

Perhaps the most extreme form of gotcha politics is the phenomenon recently dubbed "mobbing," in which a group of people collectively set out to damage or destroy a colleague's reputation. The Chronicle has reported fairly extensively on this trend and has detailed several cases in which professors and administrators have fallen prey to mob action.

We all have the right — indeed, the obligation — to point out potential misconduct when we become aware of it. Improper behavior needs to be identified and halted. But dealing with that behavior does not require ad hominem attack, abusive language, unsubstantiated allegations, or wolf-pack savagery.

It's not criticism that is in question; it's the tone and style of it.

Obviously, there is no way to legislate against gotcha politics or to prevent it by fiat. The only way to put an end to such incivility is for each of us to resolve not to be a party to such unprofessional behavior. It is in your own best interest to do so. After all, you never know when you might become the ax murderer's next target.

Gary A. Olson is dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Illinois State University and can be contacted at golson@ilstu.edu. To read his previous columns, go to http://chronicle.com/jobs/news/archives/columns/heads_up.

From: http://chronicle.com

Bullying exists within the majority of organisations. To what extent is this the employer’s responsibility?

...Olsen suggests several reasons why employers are slow to deal with claims of bullying. These include fear that the lack of definition and ability to asses what is bullying and what is not bullying will give rise to many spurious or malicious complaints; there is a single-bottom-line focus and unless issues are seen to have directly affected profits there is reluctance to address them; generational cycles of high conflict, workplace bullying and harassment have created a culture that seems impossible to change; those in positions of power are afraid because they realise it may mean having to change their own style of management; they simply do not want to understand it and do not want to address it; they turn a blind eye and don’t believe it could be a problem within their organisation; they consider it to be too costly to address properly and do not see these costs as being recoverable (Olsen 2005, pp. 31).

...To examine the extent of the employers responsibility for stopping bullying, it is necessary to examine the causes of bullying. Olsen (2005) suggests several reasons including the personal need to maintain power over others; the personal need to control people, circumstances or situations; a predatory need to victimise or abuse others; wanting to have fun at someone else’s expense; stress of pressure; the need to maintain a culture and teach or toughen up newcomers (rites of passage, initiation practices); a pathological need to appear superior to others or achieve success at another’s expense (Olsen 2005, pp. 28).

She also explains the two extremes of reasons behind bullying as being ’situational’ - due to a particular event or situation - and ‘chronic’ - being within the nature of the bully under all situations (Olsen 2005). The situational bully may respond to being placed under pressure, experiencing personal problems, being threatened by others or having their own self esteem threatened by performing an isolated act of bullying. Olsen (2005) sees this as most common form of bullying and the easiest to manage, saying that these individuals will respond well to correction and training. The UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line (date not given) suggests specific psychological disorders that can account for chronic bullying. These include antisocial personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, paranoid personality disorder, borderline personality disorder and Munchausen’s Syndrome. Olsen (2005) says that although chronic bullies are less common that situational bullies, they may have greater impact upon people and organisations and be far more difficult, if not impossible, to change (Olsen 2005, pp. 42).

From: http://www.businessteacher.org.uk

October 28, 2008

Is my manager's conduct fair?

Anonymous Anonymous asks...

I had a staff development review recently. My manager refused to fill in the section on overall performance.

I am a researcher. He cannot prove anything againts me and he cannot understand my work, but the funding body, a private company, repeatedly made comments on my work over the last year that were proven to be wrong after fighting my corner.

Can someone please advise if my manager's conduct is fair

October 27, 2008

Critiques of the anti-bullying movement and responses to them - Part 2

Anonymous said:

I am struck by Kennemer's use of the term 'terrorism' because that is exactly how I described my own mobbing experience. I used to refer to my workplace as 'the minefield' because I never knew when or how the next psychological booby trap was going to explode, usually on email, like a sniper attack. When I used the term 'terrorism' in a letter of grievance, the term was then used against me in disciplinary proceedings as an example of my 'uncollegial' and 'extreme' behaviour towards the bullies. It is simply appalling the way complacent senior management reward the complacent, do-nothing, smugly self-satisfied 'hangers on', as Westhues calls them. They stick their noses into the business of their hard-working targets whose only crime is to do their jobs a bit too diligently and too brilliantly to ensure the perpetuation ad infinitum of the complacency and unambitious mediocrity of their academic workplace.

October 24, 2008

Critiques of the anti-bullying movement and responses to them

...Of the 50 or so academic mobbing targets described on my website – Lawrence Summers, Ward Churchill, Therese Warden, James D. Watson, Norman Finkelstein, Sami Al-Arian, Justine Sergent, many more – few have been identified in academic or public media as targets of bullying. Many have been called bullies themselves.

The term “difficult person” is a common synonym for bully, the workmate who needs to be corrected or gotten rid of, the nail sticking up that needs to be hammered down. In the first US book on mobbing, Noa Davenport and her colleagues argue that labeling a workmate a “difficult person” is a technique of mobbing.

Robert Sutton’s popular 2007 book, The No Asshole Rule, reports and reflects the work of many presenters at this conference. Yet in her Hammerly Memorial Lecture on Academic Mobbing this spring, Joan Friedenberg criticized Sutton sharply for oversimplifying the complexities of workplace conflict. Sutton is bright and circumspect. He says he worries “slightly” that “if we are too zealous about becoming civility Nazis …it will stifle creativity and individuality.” Friedenberg’s worry – and mine – is not slight but serious, that Sutton’s book invites workplace mobbing.

A popular motto for colleges in the past, pinpointing their academic purpose, was “Doce, disce, aut discede” – in English, “Teach, Learn, or Leave.” The motto deserves renewed currency in light of Alan Kors and Harvey Silverglate’s 1998 book, The Shadow University, which is about academic hangers-on who neither teach nor learn but instead meddle in scholars’ lives. Brock University philosopher Murray Miles has lately reported that his institution has a policy modeled on those at Bath, Kent, and Bradford in the UK, against “academic bullying.” The human rights officer who helps administers Brock’s policy offers a workshop entitled “Unlearn,” the first line of the description of which is, “Be nice, or leave.” I share Miles’s horror at the inversion of values this counsel implies...

By Kenneth Westhues
Professor of Sociology
University of Waterloo
Paper presented at the 6th International Conference on Workplace Bullying, Montreal, 4-6 June 2008

October 21, 2008

Have you seen this statistic?

Anonymous said:

Have you seen this statistic? Kingston came up as the second WORST university in the UK for bullying according to a UCU survey with 15.9% of respondents indicating that they were "Always" or "Often" bullied at work.

A lifesaver...

This blog has been a lifesaver for those of us who have experienced behaviour that feels like workplace bullying.

It is a place where our experiences are validated and acknowledged.

It is also a place where we can read about the research into wpb and get information that empowers us.

We remain anonymous through fear.

Thank you for all that you do.

In solidarity,

Aphra Behn

Tell the truth about life at Kingston University

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Tell the truth about life at Kingston University":

I'll tell you why -- it's because they have friends in high places, and so who cares what anyone else thinks or feels?

Look closely at who the Tribunal Chairs/Judges are in some of these cases. See which ones worked for the bullies in the past. A lot can be gleaned this way.

Take a look at these links:-

Note who represents the Post Office:-



And then note the Chair of the original Employment Tribunal:-


Now note the biographies:-



Oh, but there's nothing strange going on here, is there? No, nothing at all... It's ALL above board, isn't it?

October 20, 2008

The Serial Bully

The serial bully:
  • is a convincing, practised liar and when called to account, will make up anything spontaneously to fit their needs at that moment
  • has a Jekyll and Hyde nature - is vile, vicious and vindictive in private, but innocent and charming in front of witnesses; no-one can (or wants to) believe this individual has a vindictive nature - only the current target of the serial bully's aggression sees both sides; whilst the Jekyll side is described as "charming" and convincing enough to deceive personnel, management and a tribunal, the Hyde side is frequently described as "evil"; Hyde is the real person, Jekyll is an act
  • excels at deception and should never be underestimated in their capacity to deceive
  • uses excessive charm and is always plausible and convincing when peers, superiors or others are present (charm can be used to deceive as well as to cover for lack of empathy)
  • is glib, shallow and superficial with plenty of fine words and lots of form - but there's no substance
  • is possessed of an exceptional verbal facility and will outmanoeuvre most people in verbal interaction, especially at times of conflict
  • is often described as smooth, slippery, slimy, ingratiating, fawning, toadying, obsequious, sycophantic
  • relies on mimicry, repetition and regurgitation to convince others that he or she is both a "normal" human being and a tough dynamic manager, as in extolling the virtues of the latest management fads and pouring forth the accompanying jargon
  • is unusually skilled in being able to anticipate what people want to hear and then saying it plausibly
  • cannot be trusted or relied upon
  • fails to fulfil commitments
  • is emotionally retarded with an arrested level of emotional development; whilst language and intellect may appear to be that of an adult, the bully displays the emotional age of a five-year-old
  • is emotionally immature and emotionally untrustworthy
  • exhibits unusual and inappropriate attitudes to sexual matters, sexual behaviour and bodily functions; underneath the charming exterior there are often suspicions or hints of sex discrimination and sexual harassment, perhaps also sexual dysfunction, sexual inadequacy, sexual perversion, sexual violence or sexual abuse
  • in a relationship, is incapable of initiating or sustaining intimacy
  • holds deep prejudices (eg against the opposite gender, people of a different sexual orientation, other cultures and religious beliefs, foreigners, etc - prejudiced people are unvaryingly unimaginative) but goes to great lengths to keep this prejudicial aspect of their personality secret
  • is self-opinionated and displays arrogance, audacity, a superior sense of entitlement and sense of invulnerability and untouchability
  • has a deep-seated contempt of clients in contrast to his or her professed compassion
  • is a control freak and has a compulsive need to control everyone and everything you say, do, think and believe; for example, will launch an immediate personal attack attempting to restrict what you are permitted to say if you start talking knowledgeably about psychopathic personality or antisocial personality disorder in their presence - but aggressively maintains the right to talk (usually unknowledgeably) about anything they choose; serial bullies despise anyone who enables others to see through their deception and their mask of sanity
  • displays a compulsive need to criticise whilst simultaneously refusing to value, praise and acknowledge others, their achievements, or their existence
  • shows a lack of joined-up thinking with conversation that doesn't flow and arguments that don't hold water
  • flits from topic to topic so that you come away feeling you've never had a proper conversation
  • refuses to be specific and never gives a straight answer
  • is evasive and has a Houdini-like ability to escape accountability
  • undermines and destroys anyone who the bully perceives to be an adversary, a potential threat, or who can see through the bully's mask
  • is adept at creating conflict between those who would otherwise collate incriminating information about them
  • is quick to discredit and neutralise anyone who can talk knowledgeably about antisocial or sociopathic behaviors
  • may pursue a vindictive vendetta against anyone who dares to held them accountable, perhaps using others' resources and contemptuous of the damage caused to other people and organisations in pursuance of the vendetta
  • is also quick to belittle, undermine, denigrate and discredit anyone who calls, attempts to call, or might call the bully to account
  • gains gratification from denying people what they are entitled to
  • is highly manipulative, especially of people's perceptions and emotions (eg guilt)
  • poisons peoples' minds by manipulating their perceptions
  • when called upon to share or address the needs and concerns of others, responds with impatience, irritability and aggression
  • is arrogant, haughty, high-handed, and a know-all
  • often has an overwhelming, unhealthy and narcissistic attention-seeking need to portray themselves as a wonderful, kind, caring and compassionate person, in contrast to their behaviour and treatment of others; the bully sees nothing wrong with their behavior and chooses to remain oblivious to the discrepancy between how they like to be seen and how they are seen by others
  • is spiritually dead although may loudly profess some religious belief or affiliation
  • is mean-spirited, officious, and often unbelievably petty
  • is mean, stingy, and financially untrustworthy
  • is greedy, selfish, a parasite and an emotional vampire
  • is always a taker and never a giver
  • is convinced of their superiority and has an overbearing belief in their qualities of leadership but cannot distinguish between leadership (maturity, decisiveness, assertiveness, co-operation, trust, integrity) and bullying (immaturity, impulsiveness, aggression, manipulation, distrust, deceitfulness)
  • often fraudulently claims qualifications, experience, titles, entitlements or affiliations which are ambiguous, misleading, or bogus
  • often misses the semantic meaning of language, misinterprets what is said, sometimes wrongly thinking that comments of a satirical, ironic or general negative nature apply to him or herself
  • knows the words but not the song
  • is constantly imposing on others a false reality made up of distortion and fabrication
  • sometimes displays a seemingly limitless demonic energy especially when engaged in attention-seeking activities or evasion of accountability and is often a committeeaholic or apparent workaholic.
From: http://www.bullyonline.org/workbully/serial.htm

October 19, 2008

Wanted case study for The Guardian

Sophie Robehmed is writing an article for The Guardian on bullying at work of recent graduates. She urgently needs a graduate, recent graduate in the last three years or someone of graduate age who is willing to be identified.

If you are interested, please contact Sophie on sophierobehmed@live.com

October 17, 2008

Pushed out after whistleblowing

A university director who claims she lost her job after whistleblowing has said the process that led to redundancies “was too fast, too secret, was over the summer and it wasn’t fair.”

Prof Linda Archibald made the statement during the final day of the hearing yesterday into whether she was the subject of sexual discrimination after being given compulsory redundancy in 2006.

The 50-year-old academic, who worked for Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) for 17 years, said she was pushed out after whistleblowing on her boss’s mismanagement of her faculty’s accounts.

The director of the language school said she had been the victim of bullying by individuals and the institution and accused the university of “escalating discriminatory behaviour from the dean and above.”

Paul Gilroy, for LJMU, strenuously denied any accusations of bullying or discrimination. He said Prof Archibald was not the victim of sexual discrimination, a charge that “did not add up.”

Prof Archibald lost her job following a restructure which saw five departments merged into two.

Mr Gilroy said the restructuring was needed because of a “national decline” in the studying of languages, which had been reflected in the university’s admissions. He said Prof Archibald had been informed of the proposed changes from the very beginning of discussions in November, 2005, and was “well aware” her job title was under threat.

He claimed she did not get the job she applied for because she failed to demonstrate vision or leadership. He also said during the process of reapplying for jobs, some men missed out on positions and others were taken by women.

But Prof Archibald said jobs were advertised on a “drip-feed” basis and there were only two jobs on offer, one as director of the business school and one director of operations. She said she didn’t fit the specification for operations director, but should have been considered for re-deployment as director of the business school.

Compared with the other four directors, she was the longest- serving and had the greatest academic qualifications needed for the post, a 2.1 doctorate.

Closing the hearing, Mr Gilroy said Prof Archi bald had offered no explanation of what should have happened during the restructuring process, aside from saying she would take a sabbatical.

The tribunal panel have retired to make their decision, which is expected next week.

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


...Ms Archibald claimed there were “huge gaps in the administration of research” in the faculty, with annual reports “an area of huge neglect”.

She said an “endemic” problem of record-keeping led to students being missed off spreadsheets, while phantom students and those with “dubious immigration status” were wrongly registered.

Ms Archibald claimed she aired her concerns with JMU vice-chancellor Michael Brown when repeated attempts to speak to Professor Kirkbride over the faculty’s financial state failed.

She said: “I told the vice chancellor financial and academic irregularities and a cavalier macho culture among some senior staff in the business and law areas were like a juggernaut heading for a wall.”

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

United Kingdom: The Future Of Disciplinary And Grievance Procedures: The New ACAS Code

The new strengthened ACAS Code, while being preferable to the ongoing statutory rules, still leaves employers bound by strict procedures.

The new Code is a key element in the Government's plans to streamline and simplify the dispute resolution system for the benefit of employees and employers... it will complement the removal of statutory measures by establishing flexible, principles-based guidance to help resolve disputes early.'

This statement, by Minister for Employment Relations Pat McFadden, encapsulates the aim behind the revised Acas Code of Practice for disciplinary and grievance procedures. Following the Michael Gibbons report in 2007, which comprehensively reviewed how to simplify and improve all aspects of employment dispute resolution, the Government decided to scrap the compulsory dispute resolution procedures introduced in 2004. During the consultation, many contributors suggested a strengthened Acas Code would be a better solution, and it is this that will come into effect in April 2009.

What will the new Code involve?

The draft Code aims to encourage informal steps to resolve issues before any action is taken. Although the statutory procedures are abolished, we are not quite taken back to the position before they were introduced in 2004; one important difference between the new draft Code and the pre-2004 position is that an unreasonable failure to comply with the provision of the Code will entitle tribunals to adjust any awards made in relevant cases by up to 25 per cent.

The main provisions of the draft Code are as follows:

  • Issues should be dealt with promptly.
  • Employers should act consistently.
  • Appropriate investigations should be made.
  • Grievance or disciplinary actions should be carried out by managers not involved in the matter giving rise to the dispute.
  • Performance issues should involve immediate managers.
  • Employees should be informed and be able to put forward their case before any decisions are made.
  • Employees have the right to be accompanied.
  • Employees should be allowed to appeal.
  • It is good practice for employers to keep written records.

This part of the Code sets out the key ways for handling disciplinary problems in the workplace, which are to:

  • establish the facts of each case;
  • inform the employee of the problem;
  • hold a meeting with the employee to discuss the problems;
  • allow the employee to be accompanied to a meeting;
  • decide on appropriate action; and
  • provide employees with an opportunity to appeal.

The draft Code also briefly refers to "special cases" involving trade union lay officials and employees charged with criminal offences.


This part of the Code lists the keys to handling grievances in the workplace as follows:

  • Let the employer know the nature of the grievance.
  • Hold a meeting with the employee to discuss the grievance.
  • Allow the employee to be accompanied at the meeting.
  • Decide on appropriate action.
  • Allow the employee to take the grievance further if not resolved.

The draft Code states that it is good practice to consider dealing separately with issues of bullying, harassment, or whistleblowing, in other words to have separate procedures and, potentially, specially trained HR managers designated to those investigations.


Acas' own aims regarding the purpose of the Code bear a strong resemblance to those of the repealed statutory procedures: "Employers and employees should do all that they can to resolve disciplinary and grievance issues in the workplace...where this is not possible employers and employees should consider using a third party to help resolve the problem. Recourse to an employment tribunal should only be a last resort."

One of the main shortcomings with the statutory procedures was that they failed to reduce the number of claims brought before the Employment Tribunal. The question is whether the similarities between the Code and the statutory procedures will lead to a similar result.

In the context of unfair dismissal, employers will welcome the abolition of the statutory procedures as they will no longer be made automatically liable for unfair dismissal due to a technical failure to follow procedures. This is a positive move, eliminating a number of claims that were brought on technical issues without real merits.

However, failure to follow the Code may be punitive. By giving tribunals the discretion to increase awards by up to 25 per cent, which could be substantial in uncapped discrimination claims, if an employer unreasonably fails to comply, it is debatable whether the Code departs far enough from the harsh penalties imposed under the old system. There is concern that this provision will resurrect the painful problems of the statutory procedures, where every part of the process has to be followed meticulously to avoid an increase in an award. In addition to the Code, there will also be further guidelines, currently going through the consultation stage, which, although not regarded as compulsory, may in due course gain some weight in deciding tribunal cases.

The Code is still procedurally based. Although it has helped expand the scope for alternative solutions to tribunal claims with the encouragement of mediators to help settle claims, the grievance procedures still have an adversarial win or lose basis rather than exploring the reasons behind the grievance and what a mutually-beneficial solution may be.

One hopes that, like the repealed rules, it does not become another case of good intentions leading to over-regulation. Until April however, it is unclear how far its intentions will be received.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

From: http://www.mondaq.com

October 16, 2008

University Administrators

In 1997, Hector Hammerly set down a long list of characterizations of university administrators. Below are ten of them.

These administrators, Hammerly said:
  1. Put their pants on one leg at a time, like everybody else, but think it would be demeaning to acknowledge it;

  2. Know as much about planning, budgeting, human relations, and conflict resolution as a pit bull;

  3. Have "zero tolerance" for others and total tolerance for themselves;

  4. Listen to professors attentively and graciously, like a cat listens to a canary;

  5. Believe there's no need for any democratic nonsense between rubber-stamp ballots;

  6. See "leadership" as looking down upon, sitting on top of, and stepping all over;

  7. Always support each other against those they fancy their "enemy" — faculty, staff, and students, no less;

  8. Have policies for every conceivable situation and regulations for every conceivable activity, but ignore them all when convenient;

  9. Are power-addicted, fairness-innocent, apology-challenged, and freedom-averse;

  10. Cow faculty members into not helping each other — which would be the professors' only hope for shaking off the yoke.
From: http://arts.uwaterloo.ca/~kwesthue/hhammerly.htm

And, we had an anonymous contribution for number 11:

11. Establish and maintain a network of informants amongst the staff to not only report on dissenters but also apprentice as future administrators.

Do we have any contributions for number 12?

Public Lecture

Mark your calendar — Public Lecture by an Eminent Theologian

The Second Hammerly Memorial Lecture on Academic Mobbing

"How to Destroy a Don"

Hugo A. Meynell, F.R.S.C., Calgary, Alberta

Wednesday, 5 Nov. 2008, 3:30 PM, ML 246, University of Waterloo

From: http://arts.uwaterloo.ca/~kwesthue/mobbing.htm

Tell the truth about life at Kingston University

Have you worked for Kingston University?
Have you been mistreated by Kingston University?
Were you bullied and/or unfairly dismissed by Kingston University?

Or were you a staff member who participated in bullying or corruption at Kingston University?
If so, it's NOT too late to seek redemption by coming forward NOW and telling the truth about WHY you may have done what you did and WHO may have told you that you HAD to do this to save your own job.

We want to know YOUR story.
Tell us about what happened to you.
We promise to keep it STRICTLY confidential.
Send e-mail to: blowthewhistle@sirpeterscott.com

From: http://www.sirpeterscott.com/

October 14, 2008

Mobbing: animalistic behaviour

Mobbing, based on animalistic behaviour, is a malicious attempt by peers and leaders to gang up on a particular individual because they see her as a threat to their own survival. The target displays exceptional talent combined with outstanding integrity. This potent combination of traits is rare.

One of the differences between mobbing and bullying is that mobbing is condoned and even instigated by the managers. Mobbing is more serious than bullying and is referred to as psychological terrorism because the victim never knows when the next wave will come. Managers go along with it because they fear that bucking the abuse will undermine their authority. Employees with a mature personality will not participate. In the last phase of mobbing, the group will start to call the target "mentally ill" or "difficult."

This form of behaviour is common in organizations with high stress, educational institutions, and government departments. The code of ethics needs to include a statement against mobbing and the management style needs to change. The key leader should advertise that he will listen to any complaints of mobbing without retribution toward the victim.

Sharon Ryan is an adjunct professor of management sciences at Concordia University College of Alberta. Sharonryan2@gmail.com

From: http://working.canada.com

Why Does [ACADEMIC] Mobbing Take Place?

Why do mobbing processes develop in the first place? Widely spread prejudices maintain that the problem arises once an employee with character difficulties enters the work force. Research so far has never been able in any way to validate this hypothesis, either with respect to mobbed employees at the workplace, or mobbed children in school. Thus, personality theories are not very valid for analyzing the reasons behind mobbing. What then does research show as its probable causes?

The Work Organization as a Factor: Analyses of approximately 800 case studies show an almost stereotypical pattern (Becker 1995; Kihle 1990; Leymann 1992b; Niedl 1995). In all these cases, extremely poorly organized production and/or working methods and an almost helpless or uninterested management were found. This is not surprising keeping in mind the poor organizational conditions revealed at most of the workplaces at which I found (1992b, 1995c) mobbed employees from hospitals, schools and religious organizations were overrepresented in these studies. Lets take the work organization at a certain hospital as an example (see also Leymann´s and Gustafsson´s suicide study). Quite a few nurses, whom we interviewed, did not really know who their boss was. A hospital has at least two parallel hierarchies: one, represented by doctors responsible for diagnosing and determining treatments, and one represented by a hierarchy of nurses responsible for carrying out the treatment. Both hierarchies have management that gives orders and bosses the nurses, both kinds of bosses have the authority to tell a nurse what to do or what not to do.

The work load may increase either because of a shortage in the work force or due to poor work organization on a daily basis. Often, the unofficial institution of spontaneous leadership (often stigmatized as dangerous in the literature on management and organization) is required to get things accomplished at all. This commonly results in a situation where a nurse occasionally can assume command of a group of nurses without having the authority to do so, in order to accomplish the work. Clear-cut rules for this unofficial procedure, or knowledge of whether fellow nurses will accept this or not, do not exist. All of these situations are in fact high-risk situations and can very easily result in conflicts. When this happens, whether the conflict will be prolonged or can be easily settled, depends very often on the existing type of group dynamics and not on (as it should be) whether management has the training and motivation to solve conflicts or not. Especially in a working world where almost only women are employed, conflicts tend to become harsher, as women are more dependent on socially, supportive group dynamics (Björkqvist, Österman & Hjelt-Bäck, 1994).

Poor Conflict Management as a Second Source: The situation gets far more dangerous if the manager of one of these hierarchies wants to be part of the social setting. If the supervisor, instead of sorting out the problem, is actively taking part in the harassment, he or she also has to choose sides. As I have seen in very many cases, this stirs up the situation and makes it worse (Leymann, 1992b). In addition to this management reaction, it has been found to a high degree that, when a manager simply neglects the "quarrel", the conflict is thus given time to deepen and escalate. Poor managerial performance thus entails either (a) getting involved in the group dynamics on an equal basis and thereby heating it up further (which I have seen more often with female managers), or (b) denying that a conflict exists (which I have seen more often with male managers). Both types of behaviors are quite dangerous and, together with poor work organization, are the main causes for the development of a mobbing process at the workplace (Adams, 1992; or Kihle, 1990).

Again, it must be underlined, that research concerning causes of mobbing behavior, is still in its beginning; in particular the difference in behavior between male and female managers is still poorly understood. Research in this area has been carried out in Finland, demonstrating that women choose mobbing activities that affect the victim more indirectly (gossip, slander, encouraging other individuals to carry out mobbing activities etc.). Björkqvist, Lagerspetz and Kaukianinen (1992) state that female aggressiveness has been widely overlooked in earlier research because variables in the data collecting were mainly oriented towards male standards. Björkqvist et al. argue that this might be the reason behind the false impression that women score lower on questionnaires measuring aggressiveness. Even here, future research will eventually focus in more detail on the causes.

What about the personality of the subjected person? As mentioned earlier, research so far has not revealed the importance particular of personality traits either with respect to adults in workplaces or children at school. It must not be forgotten that the workplace should not be confused with other situations in life. A workplace is always regulated by behavioral rules. One of these rules calls for effective co-operation, controlled by the supervisor. Conflicts can always arise, but, according to these behavioral rules, they must be settled in order to promote efficient productivity. One of the supervisor´s obligations is to manage this kind of situation. By neglecting this obligation (and supervisors as well as top management often do so as a consequence of shortcomings in conflict management), a supervisor then - instead - promotes the escalation of the conflict into a mobbing process.

In its early stages, mobbing is most often a sign that a conflict concerning the organization of work tasks has taken on a private touch. When a conflict is "privatized", or if the motive behind its further development begins to develop into a deeper dislike between two individuals, then the conflict concerning work tasks has created a situation that an employer has the obligation to stop. Once a conflict has reached this stage in its escalation, it is meaningless to blame someone's "personality" for it. If a conflict has developed into a mobbing process, the responsibility lies primarily with management, either because conflict management has not been brought to bear on the situation, or because there is a lack of organizational policies with respect to handling conflict situations (Leymann, 1993b).

Another argument against regarding an individual´s personality as a cause of mobbing processes is that when a post-traumatic stress syndrome develops, the individual can undergo major personality changes that are indicative of a major mental disorder brought on by the mobbing process. As the symptoms of this changed personality are quite typical and distinct, it is understandable that even psychiatrists who lack knowledge about PTSD as a typical victim disorder, misinterpret these symptoms as being something that the individual brought into the company in the first place (Leymann & Gustafsson, 1996).

From: http://www.leymann.se/English/frame.html

Bullying as a pervasive problem in science research

Bullying, as defined by Wikipedia, "is the act of intentionally causing harm to others, through verbal harassment, physical assault, or other more subtle methods of coercion such as manipulation [...] Bullying is usually done to coerce others by fear or threat" (http://en.wikipedia.org/, accessed 1 August 2008). Of course, as adults we tend to think of bullying as a school-age problem and seldom talk about it or how it affects our lives. Yet, although I might be in the minority, I think that bullying is a pervasive problem in academic research and that scientists seem to accept it without further comment or disapproval as though it were a normal part of life.

PhD students, as the most junior and vulnerable members of a research group, who lack the support of success and experience to carry them through difficult periods, are most prone to become the victims of bullies. Some older colleagues might simply be scathing or insulting when commenting on an imperfect experiment; others just remain silent to cow the newcomer into submission. Some are downright nasty, but that is unusual; peer bullying is more subtle. But this subtlety is what makes bullying in this manner so insidious: it can be dismissed by senior scientists as 'professional criticism' or 'character building'; it is not.

Bullying also extends to defending dishonesty when claiming credit for the results that a junior group member has generated—after the supposed mentor had ignored the experiments while they were not working. In this case, PhD students are elbowed out of the way—figuratively speaking—and labelled as trouble makers if they complain that they are not receiving due credit. The bully gets a higher position on a publication than was warranted and the pre-docs have to labour even harder to move their careers forward. Sometimes, a senior laboratory member might even steal a project from a junior member if it seems sufficiently advanced and promising for publication.

Of course, the line between a competitive atmosphere and one where actual bullying is tolerated is a fine one. It is often the case that the bully's motives—the need to advance their own career—fall on the sympathetic ears of the laboratory head. There is a sense that 'everyone goes through this' and browbeating junior members is part of their training. Research science is certainly a competitive 'sport', which might explain why many successful scientists have 'strong' characters. But too much competition easily leads to a situation in which everyone suffers and the pressure stifles, rather than encourages, excellence.

This pressure is most prominent after an invitation to give an important plenary lecture: it creates an opportunity to excel and make one's mark on the community, but comes with large amounts of stress. In such a circumstance, the pressure on those doing the experiments increases exponentially. Some laboratory heads become outright aggressive with their team, which gives rise to a cascade of bullying as unreasonable demands are made or implied: drop other activities, work non-stop, 'borrow' reagents from others—all is fair in love, war and science, it seems. Similarly, fears that a competitor is going to publish something that will scoop ongoing work can also turn the laboratory into a hostile environment where anger, implications of inadequacy and internal competition run rampant. It also presents an opportunity to deceitfully commandeer or swap projects on the grounds of greater efficiency if a senior team member claims that he or she can complete the work faster.

Group leaders who create or encourage such an exploitative environment also tend to bully editors or reviewers when their grant application or paper is rejected. I have many years of experience both with the selection processes for grants and fellowships, and with the editorial procedures at scientific journals and, from what I have seen and read, the reaction of some scientists when their grant application or submission is rejected can be downright disgraceful. If they know that they are dealing with more junior people, they will emphasize that they are the expert and that the decision should not rest with 'some ignorant editor' who is not a 'real scientist' anyway. They will ridicule the referees who critically analysed their work; they will persist, bully and coerce until they get beyond the initial rejection.

Conversely, when such bullies make their case to a more senior colleague, they change their tactic from being offensive to chummy collegiality. No matter the tactics, this bullying is unfair and to the detriment of scientists who still have to establish their reputation, and to the vast majority of colleagues who gracefully accept the comments of an editor or reviewer.

I might be exaggerating the extent and seriousness of bullying in academic science, but its existence is undeniable. Science certainly needs a degree of competition and is genuinely driven by the incentive to be the first to discover; we are a competitive species after all. Nonetheless, we should consider the damage we inflict on one another and on research itself if we tolerate bullying. Academic science needs all types of characters; not only the dominant and aggressive ones, but also the pensive and quiet workers. More importantly, scientific research flourishes best in an environment characterized by mutual respect, tolerance and support, and where bullying has no place.

From: http://www.nature.com

Understanding the Reasons for Workplace Bullying

There are many different issues that motivate bullies to abuse their victims. Although tactics may vary from person to person, bullies share common psychological characteristics that cause them to behave badly toward their colleagues.

Understanding what incites a bully’s behavior may help you deal with it in your workplace more effectively. This will also help you identify abusive situations, and prepare you to help bullies resolve their issues without reverting to abuse.
What You Need to Know

What motivates a bully?

Most incidents of bullying are motivated by the bully’s own lack of self-esteem rather than the specific actions, appearance, or personality of the victim. Many bullies feel that they cannot cope with certain aspects of their own job. They feel threatened by a highly competent colleague or a colleague who receives praise from a manager.

Ultimately, bullies operate to hide their own incompetence. They view their victims as direct threats and bully them in an attempt to prevent their own inadequacies being revealed to other colleagues and managers.
How do bullies choose their targets?

Bullying is motivated by the insecurities and inadequacies of the bully, so any colleague who, unwittingly, threatens to highlight or expose those failings is a potential target.

In addition, certain personality traits are common to the targets of bullies. Such characteristics may include some of the following:

* being popular with colleagues, perhaps because of a vivacious personality and a good sense of humor
* being recognized (by praise or promotion) for professional competence
* being well-known and rewarded for trustworthiness and integrity (perhaps by having increased responsibility)
* being helpful, sensitive and known as someone that colleagues can talk to about professional or personal issues
* finding it difficult to say no and frequently offering to help others with projects or deadlines
* Being unwilling to gossip or engage in malicious discussion about the incompetence of others
* Being quick to apologize when accused of something, even if not guilty

Bullies are also opportunistic and may choose a particular victim in order advance their own career. Many bullies select vulnerable victims that they can intimidate more easily than more confident colleagues—perhaps a new hire, a younger or older colleague, or someone that is shy or reserved. Targeting such people allows bullies to manipulate events and actions in their favor, transferring blame for incompetence from themselves to vulnerable victims.

From: http://www.bnet.com/

Have they learnt something? Are they learning anything?

Visit 40.383 was from Universities UK. Have they learnt something? Are they learning anything?

October 13, 2008

Not a union worth being a member of...

  • Macdonald Daly 11 October, 2008

    I was UCU President at Nottingham for seven years then Vice-President for 2. UCU HQ and regional officers, with the exception of wage negotiators, were in nearly every case poor at providing support. Legal support? Forget it. UCU is not, in my view, a union worth being a member of.

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

7th November 2008 - Ban Bullying At Work Day

Welcome to the independent home of the 5th National Ban Bullying at work day campaign.

Workplace bullying is a silent disease affecting millions of people throughout the UK. Nobody is immune, so turning a blind eye or a deaf ear is no longer an option. 18.9 million Working days are lost to industry every year. Workplace bullying should be on every employers agenda - Is it on yours?

Recognition and awareness of bullying at work is the focus for this year’s campaign. It is centered on eliminating the fear employees feel about speaking out, by providing them with support to overcome their fear with courage.

We need your organisation to share our commitment by getting involved and raising awareness of this important issue within your own workplace, so that everyone can identify and take responsibility for resolving bullying at work. Come to your senses, what could be simpler?

The Ban Bullying at work campaign is spearheaded by the Andrea Adams trust – the first charity in the UK dedicated to raising awareness of workplace bullying.

Last year’s Ban Bullying day was very successful, with over 300 organisations involved and an estimated 3 million of the UK’s workforce taking part in events on the day. The website was accessed by an estimated 3 million people up to and including November 7th. All campaign promotional items were completely sold out and several thousand co-branded posters were sold across Europe.

A very successful PR campaign saw us on BBC News, GMTV, Sky News, the ‘Today’ programme, 23 regional BBC radio shows and a wide range of newspapers and magazine articles which all helped get the campaign the attention it deserved.

As the UK’s leading authority on workplace bullying, the Andrea Adams Trust is committed not just to helping individuals and organisations deal with the problem, but to extending our understanding of the nature and scale of workplace bullying through extensive partnership working. For more details of the Trust’s work click here.

October 10, 2008

Too bad

Further to UCU: 'Mild-mannered militants' will get our support and protection':

  • Howard Fredrics 9 October, 2008

    It's too bad that Sally Hunt doesn't stick by her words by helping bullied university staff to assert their legal rights. By failing to provide even basic legal support to virtually all applicants and by then withdrawing support to those few applicants who are given initial help when they elect to go all the way to trial, rather than accept a pitiful compromise agreement, Sally Hunt is perpetuating the cozy relationship between management and UCU at the expense of lecturers.

  • Peter Kropotkin 9 October, 2008

    It is good to read that Sally is making some noise - now what about some action? All UCU needs to do is select some representative cases of union members that are relatively clear-cut, that have a decent chance of winning in an Employment Tribunal, and take them all the way. This will really show that UCU means business. The 2,000 active cases of members claiming unfair treatment, is more than likely the tip of the iceberg.

  • Aubrey Blumsohn 9 October, 2008

    Too bad indeed.

    There is a world of difference between that which the Sally believes she sees and what the UCU/AUT actually does.

    Sadly, when asked to explain why the UCU failed to uphold the most basic principles of academic freedom in several cases (including those of Rhetta Moran and myself), Sally felt it appropriate to reply in a completely irrelevant manner and then to terminate the conversation.

  • Andy 10 October, 2008

    Is Ms. Hunt living on a different planet? I’ve been paying my subs as a research student member of the Union for years, but when I desperately needed them to help me with a serious issue of disability discrimination (an issue that would have been eagerly championed in the good old days, when ‘outdated’ union membership actually meant something) my request was refused on the basis that I am (or was) a student, and I was dumped into a desperate legal black hole. Forget about the paddle – I was without a canoe. Despite my evidently sub union status as a student, I sent them a number of payslips showing the ad hoc casual teaching work that I was encouraged to do by the University - casual work is included in employment legislation and should have triggered at least a twitch of interest from this ineffectual Union. Is it any wonder that belligerent managers such as the ‘loose-lipped registrar’ (I know him only too well) treat the Union with derision. It’s because they act derisory.

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

October 09, 2008

UCU: 'Mild-mannered militants' will get our support and protection

With 2,000 active cases of members claiming unfair treatment at any one time UCU membership remains vital, says Sally Hunt.

Earlier this year, Times Higher Education "outed" a university registrar laughing about redundancies, describing staff as "deadwood" and the University and College Union (UCU) as "outdated" and "left wing" ("Loose lips sink staff relationships", 1 May).

What startled me at the time was how little surprise there was across the sector that the individuals concerned should hold such views.

It is perhaps easier to see this episode as symbolic of a sector increasingly dominated by macho management, such as that at Nottingham Trent University, where UCU members have voted in favour of strike action after the union faced derecognition unless it agreed to a much weakened agreement.

The concept of derecognition in higher education seems utterly alien until you link it to the broader anti-union context epitomised by our loose-lipped registrar.

Still not convinced? Try the thoughts of Nick Rogers, human resources director at Kingston University, who said in February: "I believe in trade unions - responsible trade unions. But being responsible means not pandering to a vocal, militant minority who cannot see either the future of modern employee relations, or the benefits it can bring to hard-working colleagues."

The extremism of the language is as shocking as the argument is weak. What Rogers really meant was that he believes in unions, so long as they are compliant.

These are not isolated instances. A work-life balance survey undertaken in 2007 by Coventry University reported that leadership styles in higher education were perceived to be "reactive, secretive, inconsistent, demotivating, controlling and indecisive". The survey also reported that university staff were more likely than others to experience bullying. In a recent UCU study, 6.7 per cent of respondents said that they were "always or often" bullied.

The UCU estimates that our branches are dealing with about 2,000 individual cases of members claiming unfair treatment at any one time. How sad that, instead of addressing the problem, the hawks who seem to be running higher education choose to shoot the messenger - the UCU.

The union acts as a powerful civilising influence on a sector that sometimes forgets how to treat staff properly. Membership is at its highest since the merger with our colleagues from further education and growing fastest among employees on fixed-term contracts.

The case of Andrew Ball, a researcher who won a landmark case against the University of Aberdeen, forcing it to offer him a permanent post after it had employed him continuously on short-term contracts for nine years, exposed the practices that have entrenched job insecurity within higher education.

Ball says he would "encourage university contract researchers at whatever stage in their careers to join UCU ... if they choose to remain out of the union they lose a powerful tool for representation to employers and government".

In its judgment against Aberdeen, the Employment Tribunal noted that the standard excuse of highly insecure funding as the cause of casualisation simply would not wash. Most comparable businesses would love to have the security of funding universities receive, said the tribunal, but they manage without the endemic use of short-term contracts. On 3 December, Times Higher Education readers are invited to join our first day of action to stamp out casualisation.

The 2006 pay settlement demonstrates exactly why the UCU and its members are so important to the sector. We had heard encouraging rhetoric about the need to pay staff properly, but when it came down to it the deal was substantially better than what the employers had been prepared to offer only because UCU members were prepared to challenge them.

But having been forced to pay more than they wanted, employers are looking to get even. On 18 September, Times Higher Education quoted an unnamed source as saying next year's increase will be between "zero and a very small figure".

Any attempts to claw back the value of our current pay deal will be seen by staff as yet another kick in the teeth, particularly as vice-chancellor pay is immune from this proposed downward pressure on staff salaries.

Most UCU members would chuckle to see themselves described as militants. They are dedicated professionals committed to their students and their colleagues.

Yet in this new world where the UCU is threatened with derecognition, where casual staff must go to court to establish their rights, where it takes industrial action to secure decent pay offers, and where one in 15 report regular bullying, even the most mild-mannered of people can become angry.

Vice-chancellors and their well-remunerated hired hands who wish the "dinosaurs" would leave the stage will be disappointed. The UCU and its mild-mannered militants are here to stay.

Postscript :

Sally Hunt is general secretary of the University and College Union.

From: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk - When you visit the Times Higher Education, don't forget to add your comment at the bottom of their page.

October 08, 2008

UNESCO: Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel

B. Self-governance and collegiality

31. Higher-education teaching personnel should have the right and opportunity, without discrimination of any kind, according to their abilities, to take part in the governing bodies and to criticize the functioning of higher education institutions, including their own, while respecting the right of other sections of the academic community to participate, and they should also have the right to elect a majority of representatives to academic bodies within the higher education institution.

32. The principles of collegiality include academic freedom, shared responsibility, the policy of participation of all concerned in internal decision making structures and practices, and the development of consultative mechanisms. Collegial decision-making should encompass decisions regarding the administration and determination of policies of higher education, curricula, research, extension work, the allocation of resources and other related activities, in order to improve academic excellence and quality for the benefit of society at large.

D. Discipline and dismissal

48. No member of the academic community should be subject to discipline, including dismissal, except for just and sufficient cause demonstrable before an independent third-party hearing of peers, and/or before an impartial body such as arbitrators or the courts.

49. All members of higher-education teaching personnel should enjoy equitable safeguards at each stage of any disciplinary procedure, including dismissal, in accordance with the international standards set out in the appendix.

50. Dismissal as a disciplinary measure should only be for just and sufficient cause related to professional conduct, for example: persistent neglect of duties, gross incompetence, fabrication or falsification of research results, serious financial irregularities, sexual or other misconduct with students, colleagues, or other members of the academic community or serious threats thereof, or corruption of the educational process such as by falsifying grades, diplomas or degrees in return for money, sexual or other favours or by demanding sexual, financial or other material favours from subordinate employees or colleagues in return for continuing employment.

51. Individuals should have the right to appeal against the decision to dismiss them before independent, external bodies such as arbitrators or the courts, with final and binding powers.

From: http://portal.unesco.org

Fired prof 'in heaven' to be back at UTSA

Alberto Arroyo came to the University of Texas at San Antonio 26 years ago with $25, an engineering degree and his reputation. He unpacked boxes, set up labs, and helped build a civil engineering department that's nationally recognized for turning out Hispanic graduates.

This summer, when the university fired him for alleged ethics violations, everything he had built seemed to be crumbling. His reputation teetered on the edge of ruin and the stress made him physically ill.

Then last week, on the eve of a faculty tribunal hearing in which Arroyo planned to fight for his job, the university dropped its case and gave Arroyo his job back. He starts work this week.

Arroyo, who repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, said Friday that he feels vindicated.

“I am in heaven. I am alive again,” said a buoyant Arroyo, surrounded by a group of about 50 students, former students and community members gathered at Champps sports bar to celebrate Arroyo's return to UTSA. “Finally, somebody put the file together and read it and said, ‘We are going to hang an innocent man.'”

University officials, who at one point explored criminal charges against Arroyo, offered little explanation for his sudden reinstatement, saying only that it was best for the students and the university.

Arroyo's saga began in January, when officials put him and a fellow engineering professor, Chia-Shun “Rocky” Shih, on administrative leave for buying a parcel of land near Helotes that Shih's students were studying for a yearlong class project.

Shih did not realize until after closing on the land that it was the same parcel his students were studying. He told the students to find a new project, but did not tell them why. Arroyo has said the purchase was coincidental, and he is not to blame for how Shih handled the matter.

UTSA officials are pressing their case against Shih, who appealed his firing to a faculty tribunal. The tribunal heard Shih's case last week and will send its conclusions to University of Texas System regents for a final decision.

In Arroyo's case, he believes a massive outpouring of support from students, alumni and professional engineers helped persuade university officials to bring him back.

“I have never felt so much love in my life,” said Arroyo of the e-mails and letters. “When I read them, I cried.”

Students describe Arroyo as one of the toughest professors in the department, but also one of the kindest. If a student needed books and could not afford them, Arroyo would make an anonymous donation, said Margarita Hernandez, a former student who now works for the City of San Antonio as a storm water reviewer.

“For the university to be doing this to him, I was completely shocked,” Hernandez said. “He was the backbone of the civil engineering program.”

Another former student, Laura Campa, said Arroyo gave her a job grading papers when she was broke and trying to pay her way through college. The university's treatment of Arroyo so upset Campa that when the alumni association called asking for money, she turned it down.

“I said no, I wasn't willing to support the university right now because of what they had done to Dr. Arroyo,” Campa said.

When Megan Forthman, a 22-year-old senior, heard about Arroyo's predicament, she gathered 79 signatures from fellow civil engineering students on a petition to reinstate Arroyo. She sent it to a host of administrators, including UTSA President Ricardo Romo, but received no response.

“It was ridiculous,” Forthman said. “I am really upset still with the university and most definitely with Dr. Romo.”

Among structural engineers in the community, Arroyo's absence caused concern about the quality of UTSA graduates, said John Marin, a local structural engineer.

“The students were of a high caliber, mostly because it's pretty tough to get through the requirements Arroyo's got. You really need to know what you are doing,” Marin said.

Though Arroyo's supporters may find it hard to forgive UTSA, Arroyo harbors no ill will.

“When I leave, I will have my degree, my reputation back, my $25 and the love of my students. That's all that I wanted,” Arroyo said.

From: http://www.mysanantonio.com

Racial Equality

Unfortunately I had a long dispute at The University of Sheffield. My concerns are with the University Equal opportunities Policy; as the Faculty does not record, nor have access to, details of ethnic origin of individual students. The commission For Racial Equality should investigate the disparity practices of The University Of Sheffield. Penalise the University.


October 06, 2008

TERRORISM OR BREACH OF ACADEMIC FREEDOM - Dare We Talk About the Nottingham Two?

Today’s UCU strike action against Nottingham Trent University seems to have deflected attention from the equally sobering actions last May of its Russell Group neighbour down the road (and whose actions were, after all, the subject of international censure and an AUT greylisting in 2004).

Dare we talk about the Nottingham Two, a subject which seems to have slipped off the UCU radar screen? In the process, we wish to draw attention to several hitherto overlooked facts.

National coverage of these high profile arrests to date have remained curiously tight-lipped about what would seem to be a critical detail, namely that Rizwaan Sabir, the University of Nottingham postgraduate student arrested in May 2008 for possession of the Al Queda training manual (along with his friend Hicham Yezza to whom he sent the document for printing), had previously been arrested on 29 November 2007 by Nottingham Police on the University’s campus for taking part in a peaceful campus political demonstration.

In early March 2008, following on from his November arrest, Sabir led a 'freedom of speech' demonstration on the University of Nottingham’s campus. His message: ‘The questioning on campus of issues that are emotional has become taboo . . . a University campus is a place where people like us should be exchanging ideas’.

Those close to the case acknowledge that at the time both Sabir and Yezza were arrested on 23 May 2008 the University’s senior management were fully aware of Sabir’s prior incidents of political activism and campus dissidence.

Does this not raise a disturbing question, namely, whether Sabir and Yezza were targeted and victimised for having dared on previous occasions to exercise their academic freedom and right to free speech against actions taken by the University?

The November 2007 arrest of Sabir was clearly instigated by the University’s senior management, just like the May 2008 arrests of Sabir and Yezza; unlike the former, though, the latter captured unsavoury international media attention owing to the threatened deportation of Yezza.

In the aftermath of the scandalous events of last May, the University has staunchly defended its actions which, they maintain, were carried out in strict compliance with the Terrorism Act and in duty of care to its staff and students.

But can such self-serving PR media bites be trusted, especially in the face of evidence of the University’s prior action against Sabir?

As BBC4 asked in its broadcast of 28 July 2008, Is the case of the ‘Nottingham Two’ a harbinger of things to come for British universities, or rather a ‘one-off’ incident? The truth of the matter has far-reaching implications not only for the UK but for the world-wide academic community.

It would seem high time for the national media to launch a full-scale investigation into the matter of these arrests.

Rizwaan Sabir has been an outspoken champion of freedom of speech at a University well-known for its intolerance of dissent and heavy-handed penalization of students who dare to speak out against the University’s policies (e.g. a group of students protesting an increase in library fees slapped with a fine of £300).

The implications of the potential abuse of the Terrorism Act to mask egregious violations of academic freedom and victimisation which seeks to target, silence, and ultimately eliminate academic undesirables--especially vulnerable foreigners on visas and work permits--would seem to threaten the most basic UK civil liberties.

It is sobering enough that a Russell Group university boasting two Nobel laureates should treat its students and staff like hardened criminals, snitching them out to police without the dignity of (or with full benefit of, as some have claimed) an in-house investigation; but to witness its recently retired, knighted Vice Chancellor on record in THE impugning the integrity and probity of three members of his own academic staff—merely for exercising their academic freedom to depart from the University’s self-exonerating script--defies the most basic principles of free speech any university worthy of the name ought to hold sacrosanct.

Where is the outrage?

In his remarks at the public demonstration on 28 May 08 in support of Hichem Yezza, Nottingham MP Alan Simpson had harsh words for the University’s senior management:

“How ashamed you should be of yourselves that you can not come to the defence of one of your staff! You make judgments that are the prerogative of a court, and you don’t even wait for a trial or the presentation of evidence to make those judgments.”

But the brave and outspoken MP seemingly remains a solitary voice in the wilderness.

Where in the world is the UCU?

To her credit, UCU President Sally Hunt penned two op-ed pieces in July and August, in defence of academic freedom and the Nottingham Two. Oddly, even the UCU’s periodic ‘campaign updates’ failed to flag up Ms Hunt’s articles for those who may have missed them during the summer recess.

On the other hand, a massive gust of fresh air is rumoured to have blown into the Trent Building last week, personified as the new Vice-Chancellor. One can only hope for better things to come; in the previous regime, the halls were alive with Chinese whispers of obstreperous, whistle-blowing academic staff disciplined and sacked, silenced by compromise agreements and never to be heard from again. Those who have survived to tell the tale will know these tactics to be relentless, ruthless, unethical, demonising, and generally malicious.

Why, one might well ask, whilst exhorting thousands of its members to mount buses to travel to Nottingham Trent University today, has the UCU failed to utter so much as a single syllable of concern, or offered even a brief update about the disturbing and very much unresolved matter of the Nottingham Two?

Why, for example, has UCU not considered a strike action against *both* Nottingham universities? Or perhaps, at the very least, seized the moment--given the proximity and fortuitous recent change of guard--to request an update on the Nottingham Two and the current state of academic freedom at the city’s ‘other’ university?

In short, why the tough UCU industrial action against NTU and the delicate ‘kid gloves’ approach with its historically more defiant Russell Group sister?

Whatever the case, only a full-scale, impartial investigation into the facts and history surrounding the Nottingham Two will ultimately reveal whether these high profile arrests stemmed from a clear and imminent danger or whether they were themselves an even more insidious kind of terrorism: the attempted intimidation, silencing, and elimination of free speech, campus dissidence, and academic freedom.

By Rosa Luxembourg

October 04, 2008

Ethics and Academia: An Oxymoron

Your blog is great! I wish it included more cases from the USA. Please participate in the poll on my blog (http://ethicsandacademia.blogspot.com/).


Bullying banned in college contract

A new three-year collective agreement covering Ontario's 24 community colleges and more than 7,000 members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union includes ground-breaking language on bullying and workplace harassment.

The language, which covers support staff including almost 300 employees at St. Clair College, prohibits "bullying and psychological harassment" and carries penalties ranging from a transfer to another department all the way to dismissal.

Rod Bemister, chairman of OPSEU's bargaining committee, said bullying and psychological harassment "can include, but not be limited to, degrading and belittling staff members, undermining or impeding their work, use of physical gestures and spreading malicious rumours."

"It didn't result from any specific incidents at any of our colleges, although I'm not saying such behaviour hasn't happened, but rather it resulted from our ongoing wellness-in-the-workplace campaign," said Bemister. "We have employee and management committees which meet on a regular basis between contract bargaining and much of the work on the language was already done before bargaining began."

Bemister said other penalties for violating the language include suspension and demotion.

John Strasser, president of St. Clair College, welcomed the bullying and harassment language, saying "neither should be tolerated in any workplace."

Strasser also said "we have an excellent staff at St. Clair and I'm happy we were able to reach an agreement that was accepted by such a wide margin of our employees."

While members of OPSEU turned the deal down at five colleges, it won 82 per cent approval at St. Clair College.

The deal also calls for a three per cent wage increase in each year of the agreement, a special allowance of $425 for every employee with more than six months seniority, improvements in dental, vision care and safety footwear allowances and the addition of Family Day to the list of statutory holidays.

Support staff work in such areas as finance, information technology, maintenance and registration.

From: http://www.canada.com/windsorstar/news

October 03, 2008

Reporting restrictions in employment tribunals

An opinion from: http://www.personneltoday.com

The threat of sensationalised media coverage of tribunal claims leaves many employers with little option than to settle a claim to escape the damage to its reputation and that of its executives, despite often having a solid case for the defence. It also does nothing to encourage deserving employees to come forward and bring a claim.

And the fact that the press typically only provides very limited coverage to tribunal decisions also adds to the problem.

This is especially true of high-profile cases involving several days of evidence when often many weeks, if not months, will have passed before judgment is finally given. By this time, irrespective of the final outcome, what is left hanging in the air is the sense that the accusations that have been made, however jaundiced the reporting may have been, were true.

While occasionally the employee may feel the overwhelming urge to put its side of the story into the public domain, even before proceedings have commenced - as did Metropolitan Police commissioner Tariq Ghaffur - this is not the norm and most cases only appear as a result of reporting from a tribunal hearing.

From the employer's perspective, to see your accuser publicly humiliated in the press is an understandable urge, and it is therefore tempting to provide the waiting court reporter with an advanced copy of arguments or witness statements to help ensure that press coverage is favourable.

However, it makes no commercial sense to encourage a character assassination of the employee in the press as this type of publicity can backfire spectacularly. The employer is likely be left to pick up the expensive tab for the loss of career earnings if the employee's accusations are upheld. This is because when it comes to the award of compensation, the employee's ability to secure future employment is a key factor. The tribunal cannot ignore the severely diminished employment prospects that will result from adverse press coverage that has taken place as a result of the proceedings.

Tribunal procedures provide only limited circumstances where restrictions can be placed on reporting. And the requirement for hearings to take place in public reflects the important principle of open justice in a democratic society. So the power to restrict reporting is principally only available in cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct - typically sexual harassment - to avoid deterring women who have potential claims for sexual harassment from bringing a claim for fear of the damaging publicity that may ensue.

Once a restrictive reporting order is in place, the media is not allowed to report the case in such a way that would lead members of the public to identify anyone making, or affected by, the allegations. Deliberate breach is a criminal offence.

Yet surely both the employer and the employee in a case should be able to apply to have such an order granted - at least for a limited period - where it is known that a serious allegation is to be made during proceedings and which, given the nature of press reporting, could fundamentally damage their reputation.

It can no longer be in the public interest that the normal rights of the press to communicate information to the public should remain unrestricted in these types of cases.

It's clearly time to look again at the rules governing restricted reporting orders.