April 07, 2010

Australia: Staff and students back Newcastle University bully claims

More former and current University of Newcastle staff and students have spoken out about bullying at the institution, claiming a culture of "intimidation" exists.

More than 20 people contacted The Herald in response to yesterday's report about an academic who says she suffered years of harassment after reporting plagiarism in 2003.

It took the university more than five years to investigate the allegation and two staff members were counselled regarding "acceptable publication practices" last year.

Dr Michelle Adams's case will go back to the Industrial Relations Commission tomorrow. University Vice-chancellor Nick Saunders has strongly denied a culture of bullying at the institution.

A former geographer, who worked in the same faculty as Dr Adams, told The Herald she was forced to leave the university following a "major breakdown" due to years of bullying.

The academic said she also supported a student in a plagiarism claim, this time against another student. The woman, who signed a confidentiality agreement when she left, said the university had a history of "eliminating people who report misconduct because they do not want it exposed".

"I felt very isolated and bullied throughout the whole thing."

Another former academic, Stuart Pearson, said he chose to leave rather than put up with bullying. Dr Pearson described what he witnessed at Newcastle as "vicious" and "dysfunctional".

"When you leave you realise just what the place is like, it's like a weight lifts off your shoulders," he said.

Two other academics, who still work at the university, said cliques and bullying were part of the institution's culture and had been for a long time.

The pair, who work in the same school, said people with dissenting voices were hounded into submission or bullied out.

"In so many cases the bullies are actually rewarded for their actions and when staff see this happening it creates a culture of fear," one said.

The university did not respond to The Herald's request for comment yesterday.

From: http://www.theherald.com.au


Anonymous said...

Bullying is endemic in Australian universities. I have been one target of a shocking campaign of bullying where myself and my colleagues have been subject to innuendo, 'freezing out', being told that others don't like us, having written documents circulated that subtly suggest we lack real skill and credibility / should not have been employed, and a change process the whole aim of which was to disempower and marginalise us.

I feel for my colleagues at Newcastle and wish them all the best.

Anonymous said...

Hello Aussie Academic,
I wonder if you have heard about Brian Martin's work? Just google-search "Brian Martin Whistleblowing".
Brian and several other Aussie academics are members of Whistleblowers Australia and they will understand your situation. You might want to contact them.
Robina Cosser

Anonymous said...

I didn't know about the website - although I knew of the organisation more generally. Thanks!

Our issue with bullying kind of had its genesis in whistleblowing. Someone received an unfair committee decision, they fought it, won and we are now facing recriminations as a group. There is more to it than this - it is also a gender issue and related to other things too...

Anonymous said...

"it is also a gender issue"

--oh really? Like how feminist totalitarians ban Men's studies classes


or abolish the Men's Officer of one British university behind closed doors?

or the double standards of how you talk about men vs. women. Larry Summers chickened out and resigned over his comments, but would anyone get angry at a professor saying that women in some ways are superior than men and that men just "can't cut it"? Women are a "protected" identity group in academia, not men. Men are the punching bags.