December 24, 2012

Christmas wishes...

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
with every legal word I write
where jewels of justice glisten
and the 'Dailys' listen
printing truths that end the bully's might

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
with bullies buried deep in snow
may their hearts be frozen
with fri-i--i--i-ight
facing truths that turn them deathly white
I do not think they can comprehend the concept of the fires of the need for justice that burns within the target's heart...

By Lin Johnson

December 21, 2012

Kenneth Westhues, Correction of Mobbing Episodes in Higher Education

The insight in Schneider’s analysis [q.v.] of the “ineducability of administrators,” their common reluctance to rescue mobbing targets or even to grasp the concept, derives from his use of Max Weber’s favoured method of social research, verstehen, his stepping into administrators’ shoes and looking at things from their point of view. Schneider’s similar insight into the peril faculty associations put themselves in if they support the target has the same origin: understanding from the inside the political constraints on the association leadership.

Schneider is right that mobbing is a “loaded characterization” and mobber a “stigmatizing term.” By definition, the mere application of the term mobbing to a sequence of events in a university (or any other organization) is going to be contested by the instigators and the main participants, since it implies that reason and evidence do not support what they are doing, that in mobilizing for a colleague’s humiliation and eventual elimination, they have been “carried away” by collective passion into wreaking unwarranted harm on their scapegoat (another loaded term), as well as on the values underlying academic life.

This problem in the scientific study of mobbing is so fundamental one is tempted to switch to some other specialty. Why make trouble for yourself? All the social scientist has to say is, “By standard measures, it looks to me that so-and-so has been mobbed.” The beleaguered target may say thanks, but the great majority of those involved will do all in their power to keep this diagnosis off the table, and if they feel obliged to respond, they may well ratchet up their attack on the target, or even broaden it to include the scholar who has called it mobbing.

To whom, then, can one look for acknowledgement that a mobbing has indeed occurred, and for action toward turning back the mob and rescuing its target? Who will take the risk of disagreeing with an angry crowd?

There is no formulaic answer. A mob is sometimes stopped by a single person – a dean, a professor, maybe a secretary – with strength of character enough to stand up and say, “Cut it out. Lay off. There will be no ganging up in this workplace.” Far more mobbings than ever make the news are nipped in the bud by one man or woman who has guts. A famous example occurred long ago in the Middle East. A brave, charismatic rescuer shamed mobbers into slinking away by saying, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” That rescuer, of course, was himself mobbed sometime later, fatally.

To the question of how to correct a mobbing, a further answer is that if the mobbing has reached an advanced stage, the odds of full correction are close to nil. Leymann could not cite a single case from all his years of research, in which the mobbing target was given an apology and fully reintegrated into the workgroup. Once you’ve been collectively expelled, you can never quite go home again. The most one can hope for is mitigation of the target’s losses, in terms of reputation, respect, position, income, health, friendships, family. The realistic question is how to achieve as much mitigation as possible – the difference, for instance, between departing with a large buyout or with nothing but life and the chance to start over somewhere else.

Regardless of how much correction is won, the correcting agent is generally from outside the organization in which the conflict has occurred. Mobbing comes into clearest focus at a certain distance. Outsiders’ vision is less clouded by mobbers’ passion. Once informed of the evidence, outsiders can more easily see what has gone on and label it accurately. Further, outsiders are less vulnerable to the mobbers’ wrath. They face fewer penalties than insiders do for framing the events (to use Schneider’s term) in a way that transfers some blame from the target to the righteous enforcers of virtue.

Here are four examples of outsiders who have played in some cases a corrective role.

First, the courts, which are sometimes helpful if the mobbers have been clumsy enough to commit a clear violation of the target’s rights as an employee or citizen. An example this spring was a jury’s finding for Ward Churchill, in the latter’s suit against the University of Colorado for wrongful dismissal. This verdict did not exonerate Churchill and he will not likely get his job back, but clearly, it restored a fair bit of what his adversaries had robbed him of.

Second, arbitrators and other outside adjudicators established for dispute resolution by university policies and collective agreements. Like courts, these quasi-judicial bodies sometimes rescue mobbing targets, depending on how flagrant are violations of the relevant terms and conditions of employment. The rescue is partial at best. In a case of administrative mobbing at Waterloo, where the target had been formally dismissed on trumped up grounds of sexual harassment, the arbitrator overturned the dismissal and ordered reinstatement. But by the time judgment was handed down, the target had been suspended for two years, his lab had been dismantled, his nerves were shot. He eagerly accepted the university’s offer of a buyout.

Third, the media. The Chronicle of Higher Education’s relentless exposure of mobbings at Southern Illinois University over the past five years is a good example of the limits of the press’s power. Despite national embarrassment in this prestigious medium, the lethal regime of President Glenn Poshard is still in place. But this is also an example of the power of the press. Mobbers’ victory is total, and so is the target’s defeat, if the facts of a case are never even exposed to public view. The Chronicle’s stories have scraped a little of the dirt from the names of professors besmirched at SIU, and to that extent, lessened the extent of their social elimination.

Fourth, organizations like the AAUPFIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), and NAS (The National Association of Scholars), for which academic freedom is a core value, and to which professors routinely appeal, if their freedom is infringed upon. I devote half of my book, The Remedy and Prevention of Mobbing in Higher Education, to two mobbing cases at Medaille College in Buffalo, New York, which were in great part corrected by the administration there, once AAUP exposed them in a report and threatened the college publicly with censure. FIRE has had many similarly dramatic successes, which it customarily trumpets on its website.

Among other outside organizations that may play a corrective role in academic mobbing are professional and learned societies, accrediting bodies, churches, granting agencies, student organizations, and interest groups that agitate on behalf of whatever social category (women, gays, Jews, blacks, Evangelicals, Palestinians, or whoever else) the mobbing target belongs to.

To the many targets of academic mobbing who write to me, I routinely suggest taking pen or pencil and listing on a sheet of paper every outside body that might conceivably be helpful if called upon (then to weigh this list soberly against a list of all the outside bodies the mobbers might be able to recruit on their side)...


December 01, 2012

Prof. Hassan Abdalla is still at it...

How do I recognise a bully:
  • Jekyll & Hyde nature - 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 sees both sides;

  • is a convincing, compulsive liar and when called to account, will make up anything spontaneously to fit their needs at that moment;

  • uses lots of charm and is always plausible and convincing when peers, superiors or others are present, the motive of the charm is deception and its purpose is to compensate for lack of empathy;

  • relies on mimicry to convince others that they are a "normal" human being but their words, writing and deeds are hollow, superficial and glib;

  • displays a great deal of certitude and self-assuredness to mask their insecurity;

  • excels at deception;

  • exhibits much controlling behaviour and is a control freak;

  • displays a compulsive need to criticise whilst simultaneously refusing to acknowledge, value and praise others;

  • when called upon to share or address the needs and concerns of others, responds with impatience, irritability and aggression;

  • often has an overwhelming, unhealthy and narcissistic need to portray themselves as a wonderful, kind, caring and compassionate person, in contrast to their behaviour and treatment of others, the bully is oblivious to the discrepancy between how they like to be seen (and believe they are seen), and how they are actually seen;

  • has an overbearing belief in their qualities of leadership but cannot distinguish between leadership (maturity, decisiveness, assertiveness, trust and integrity) and bullying (immaturity, impulsiveness, aggression, distrust and deceitfulness);

  • when called to account, immediately and aggressively denies everything, then counter-attacks with distorted or fabricated criticisms and allegations; if this is insufficient, quickly feigns victimhood, often by bursting into tears (the purpose is to avoid answering the question and thus evade accountability by manipulating others through the use of guilt);

  • is also ... aggressive, devious, manipulative, spiteful, vengeful, doesn't listen, can't sustain mature adult conversation, lacks a conscience, shows no remorse, is drawn to power, emotionally cold and flat, humourless, joyless, ungrateful, dysfunctional, disruptive, divisive, rigid and inflexible, selfish, insincere, insecure, immature and deeply inadequate, especially in interpersonal skills.

November 28, 2012

Another story of the power of a university versus a victim...

Once upon a time there was, in fact there still is, a high-achieving student in South Australia who wanted to be a clinical psychologist. A mature age student, a mother, someone who wasn't afraid to speak up if necessary. She loved her study and did very well at it. She had switched careers to pursue a subject and career path that fascinated her. She juggled her commitments with two pre-school children at home. Her daughter still anxiously remembers when mum was locked away every weekend working feverishly at her study.

This student was excited about taking her study towards a future career, and about completing her first ever research project in a supervisor relationship. That year, however, became hell. Her supervisor constantly told her her thesis wasn't working, that she needed to rethink and rewrite, which she did about 14 times. Other staff members scowled at her and ignored her. Finally, after months and months of rewrites, of missing many invaluable family and friend moments as the stress and the extra work took its toll, of a steadily declining grade point average, they told her, probably one of the highest achieving students in the year, that her research project was not viable and she would have to return the following year and repeat.

She was shocked, she spiralled into depression and anxiety, yet her motivation and love of the topic (not to mention stunning ignorance about what was really going on: a bullying campaign designed to eliminate her and get her away from a very dodgy department) drove her to return with fresh determination and a desire to make the most of another opportunity to learn how to do a research project. Her new supervisor was competent and efficient, the work got done swiftly and the student eventually achieved a first-class honours. That year, however, was also hell. She knew staff members were watching and testing her, she knew that a lot of her research project participants were fake and had been briefed instead of being genuine. She knew that her study and project were being negatively impacted by staff, for example by asking participants not to turn up to test sessions, while her fellow students were bolstered by support. (And in fact the student's project partner went on to win a University prize. The price of silence?) The student lost 20 kilograms in the course of a year. She hated going to campus, she shook like a leaf every time, she was scared of running into the staff from the psychology department. She got through her thesis, quit her job in a different sector of the university, and turned down a scholarship and two interviews for postgraduate study because she could no longer stand the stress of being in an environment were everyone seemed determined to test and undermine her.

Two years later and well away from the university, and she has been victimised and harassed by staff members of this department on an almost daily basis. Only, they do it indirectly; they get others to do their dirty work so that she can't prove anything. Her house and car are repeatedly sabotaged, and almost every time she goes out there is someone throwing something negative about her into her face, only subtly for example through passersby conversations. The police told her to go to the university, the university told her to go to the police. People with a great deal of power use it to abuse her covertly. She has filed complaints in all the relevant places, yet the power of these people in a small city means that she has constantly been hitting her head against a brick wall. All she wants to do is postgrad study in her beloved topic at a different university and to be left alone, yet these goals are undermined by academics from the first university. Her ex-supervisor refuses to answer the student's emails and phone calls requesting a reference (which the supervisor gave happily two years ago, and which had obviously been good as it got the student to interview stage). There has ostensibly been no contact between the supervisor and the student since the student left the university two years ago. The student emails other staff members, asking for a statement of duties that would at least outline some of the activities she undertook during her study, following the advice from literature about dealing with bullies. There is no response.

Consequently, the student applies for post-grad studies at two other universities, using an ex-employer reference and a friend reference. She gets (hallelujah) an interview at one university, but the other one does not take her through to interview stage. When she asks for feedback as to why, they send her a general response. She, however, suspects that the glaring omission of not having her Honours supervisor provide an academic reference may be to blame.

The day of her interview, which she gets through only by using anti-anxiety medication, she gets an email from the Dean of the Faculty of the first university. The Dean says she will provide a statement in response to the student's requests for a reference from staff memberes. Her statement says only that the student got a first-class Honours, and stated her GPA. She said that was all she could provide (rightly so, the student had never met her). The student wrote back, asking if she could please explain why her ex-supervisor was ignoring her and negatively affecting her chances for future study by failing to give her a reference. The Dean wrote back, saying that the reason was that two years had elapsed, and that the university could not help the student further. The student knows that there is in fact no time limit on reference giving. She rings the student association, but as usual no one can help one little old student with a target on her head to fight the might and abusive power of academic staff at a university.

The student waits to discover the outcome of her interview. But years of damage have been done.

This is a true story.

November 22, 2012

Union outs institutions with 'climate of fear'

Bullying, harassment and conflicts with colleagues are contributing to growing stress levels in the academy, a survey has found.

The effects of strained relationships in the workplace have emerged from an occupational health survey completed by about 14,000 university employees.

Staff were asked by the University and College Union whether they had suffered any form of bullying or harassment in the form of unkind words or behaviour, or had experienced high levels of conflict with colleagues.

Stress levels were higher among academics than in other professions, the survey reveals.
On a scale of one to five, university staff scored 3.53, with 1 marking the most stressful environment. That compares with an overall stress level of 4.01 measured in a national Health and Safety Executive survey in 2008.

In its report, the UCU names 19 universities that it deems to have the highest levels of workplace conflict.

Disagreements over "unfair" workloads may trigger many of the conflict issues raised by staff, said Stephen Court, senior research officer at the UCU, who conducted the survey.

"The way that workload is allocated in a department can seem not very transparent or fair to individuals," said Mr Court. "Some people might feel they have unfairly high teaching workloads, while others are allowed to prioritise research, particularly in the run-up to the research excellence framework."

He added that heads of department and other middle managers can also experience "strain from all sides as they try to implement institutional priorities".

The UCU also conducted a poll about bullying in the sector. At one in three institutions, more than 10 per cent of respondents say they face bullying - defined as "offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour" - on a regular basis.

According to the survey, which excluded institutions that returned fewer than 53 respondents, Canterbury Christ Church University had the highest proportion of staff reporting bullying, with 19.2 per cent of respondents saying they face the problem "always" or "often".Next was Staffordshire University (17.2 per cent), Brunel University (16.3 per cent) and Teesside University (16.1 per cent). Sally Hunt, the UCU's general secretary, said: "At best, the universities represented in this survey have a climate of fear and anxiety, which demoralises and demotivates staff.

"At worst, overt harassment and bullying of individuals is going unchecked. We know from our members that this can have extreme effects on physical and mental health, and in the worst-case scenarios it renders experienced, hard-working staff no longer able to do their jobs."

She said universities should work with the UCU, which is running an Anti-Stress and Bullying Week from 19 to 26 November, to combat the problems identified by the polls.

Last month, the occupational health survey also showed that academics suffered from high stress levels as a result of heavy workloads and a long-hours culture.


The full report at:

November 21, 2012

Inquiry into workplace bullying, Australia. Submission 277.

Dear Members,

Thank you for the opportunity to prepare a submission for this important review. I decided to make this submission as a consequence of the ongoing work place bullying I endured at an Australian University between 2007 and 2010, the subsequence clinical depression (a direct consequence of this relentless bullying) and continued defamation of character I have endured by senior academics from the University.

I was the recipient of a post-doctoral research fellowship, a prestigious fellowship, which provided me with an opportunity to develop expertise overseas. This was a fantastic opportunity. On my return to Australia, this University offered a $100,000 support grant, as an incentive for me to return to their organisation. I had in writing before my return to Australia that I would be paid at an Academic Level C salary (under their salary range). On my return to Australia, the Head of the Department of this University advised that he was not going to provide the Department’s $50,000 share of the support grant and that he was not prepared to pay me at a Level C salary. This resulted in an ongoing dispute.

I subsequently took the matter to the Dean’s office after 6 months of negotiating with the Department to no avail. (The Dean’s office is above the Department in terms of seniority and overseas all activities in the Faculty which includes a number of Departments). The Dean of the Faculty ruled in my favour. I was awarded the full $100,000 support grant, and I was to be paid at Level C and the department were requested to provide a desk in an office as soon as possible.

This was to be the beginning of the cycle of work place bullying, by the Head of that Department. I was over looked for space in an office, despite being a mid- career research fellow and the joint co-ordinator of 67 research higher degree students, while other new and more junior staff members to the Department were being placed in offices. When I complained I was moved to sit between two junior administrative staff in another part of the open plan area. It was not possible to talk with students in this setting and my work was very difficult to carry out. When I complained, I was called the ‘squeaky wheel that gets all the oil’ it was suggested that I could ‘teach the students to be assertive’ through my behaviour. Numerous other derogative statements were made to me. When I raised concerns over treatment of some of the students, I was advised that it was ‘just a storm in a tea-cup’ and not to worry about doing anything further. These were serious cases that required intervention by senior academics.

During this time, a financial account held at the Department in my name, held for the purposes of research was cleaned of funds while I was attending an International conference overseas. I was sent an ultimatum by email to accept a teaching role or not have a position on my return to Australia. By the time I returned to Australia, my access to research funds, which I had acquired was terminated and the position I held as the joint coordinator was allocated to another academic staff member. I was made redundant in this process. It was only after I was made redundant, and had received a letter from the Academic Board of the University congratulating me on my effort as a recipient of a major grant for over a million dollars, that I felt I had enough courage and strength to complain to the Vice Chancellor of the University. I was provided with a small amount of funds to assist in keeping my research going for a short time. I then ended up on Federally funded Sickness Benefits for 6 months.

By the time I was made redundant by the University I was clinically depressed. If it had not been for an intervention by a close friend and colleague who had become concerned for my wellbeing, I would not be here today to tell you my story. I was extremely lucky, emergency treatment was called and I was looked after, through the worst of the clinical depression. I felt traumatised and shocked at what had happened to me. It has taken until now to be able to write clearly about the cruelty that I endured while at that University. It is appalling that to this very day, I still have these senior academics speaking derogatively about me, to other researchers and students. I know this to be true as it is relayed back to me and they too feel uncomfortable but disempowered to speak up. It is time I spoke up and said this is not ok.

The culture of this University needs to be addressed, before the trauma and shock takes its toll on someone: before there is a suicide. Culture is set from the top. While this particular university (as do other universities) have policies against bullying and harassment, no amount of policies will see this change, unless they are actioned by individuals and individuals stand up and state – this is wrong and there is someone above capable of addressing the issue. It is about creating values that ensure that when something is wrong, people can and are encouraged and expected to stand up and say this is wrong. Rather than cower away and hide or be quickly removed from the environment for daring to take a stand. It should not be acceptable to keep senior academics in their positions, simply because they bring in large amounts of research funding to a University. This is what happened in my case.

The people doing the bullying were some of the largest research income generating academics in that University. The cycle of abuse continues in that institution because the people do not suffer any consequences of their bullying behaviour. Below is one of my stories prepared for Beyond Blue.

Sitting in a Cold Darkened Room 

Sitting in a cold darkened room, huddled on my sofa, cold to the bone. This is how my friend found me. Help was called for and that was the start of my journey back.

I am a researcher, I have a PhD and have held the top research funding in the country. It didn’t protect me from depression.

The road back has been long and hard. Never again will I question people being late for work. Some days I still have trouble crawling out of bed. Work is still hard, when people have no idea of depression and its impact and there is a snigger here or there it can be a struggle to keep on the journey.

I am keeping on track and am true to myself. I am on medication and I go for psychology support weekly and that has helped a great deal. Most of all I have learnt to talk to my friends and have stopped the charade.

I now have an understanding, which one cannot buy about depression and I hope someday to be able to make a difference through my work. For now it is one step at a time, keeping my head held high.

November 15, 2012

Inquiry into workplace bullying, Australia. Submission 232.

...Thank you for the opportunity to make a submission on this important social problem. I am mostly writing in relation to your first term of reference. I am a victim of workplace bullying and I believe my story is relevant (and common).

...When incompetent or malicious people are moved to management positions, their efforts to impress people above them are self-seeking. They believe others should „make them look good‟. Left unchecked, their narcissism destroys the morale of the group and can lead to poor mental health of the individuals.

This is a personal story and I want to quote from a diary kept during 2008 when I was a senior lecturer at the University of the . I had extensive experience in teaching, publishing, research. I had a significant international reputation and had published several books.

I created a diary because I was lucky enough to have insurance with my superannuation fund, but that required making a case that I was unable to continue with my career. Unfortunately severe depression left me physically unable to speak. I was literally silenced because I couldn‟t make sounds, unless I was reading. Through two difficult years as I attended a series of assessments with psychiatrists, I read from this dairy. In my diary, on my psychologist‟s advice, I listed the events of the bullying and

I am now quoting excerpts:

“...About five years ago I asked for Long Service Leave combined with Research leave to finish my book on propaganda. I finished the book, which is now published. When I returned to the University, I found that XXX had been promoted into a newly created position of Deputy Dean. It is an inappropriate appointment: this is her first academic job, so she is inexperienced. Her personality type is to always feel slighted and she uses the position of power to ‘get’ people who slighted her.

She has used the position to litter my personnel file with letters of complaint, alleging misconduct. This was the first example: In my war propaganda course, which is always crowded with students, we had a tutorial room from which the chairs were always being taken to adjoining rooms. On one occasion, some students didn’t have a chair and one of them went to the Academic Office of the faculty and complained, thinking he was assisting me in getting more chairs. In fact, the Acting Dean called me in and told me that my tutorial room was crowded, that this breached workplace health and safety regulations and that this was misconduct.

She sent me an aggressive bullying letter and I went to the Vice Chancellor with it, to complain about her heavy handedness and her inflexibility. I complained that I was being bullied for no reason. He agreed that she had been inflexible and asked the new Deputy Vice Chancellor to meet with me. He had just arrived and when I met him, he was hostile, indicating that he didn’t believe my version of events, that the Acting Dean had told him another version. Nevertheless he agreed to set up formal mediation. I asked for a specific mediator. The Deputy Vice Chancellor did not ever organise the event because he said my mediator wasn’t available

I knew that the Deputy Vice Chancellor had been the Deputy Dean’s supervisor at University of XXXXX and I thought that fact was why he reacted the way he did. I felt powerless to do anything about what was clearly now a poisoned relationship with a new person in power.

This is another example:

"...I was then the chair of a Selection Committee for a new lecturer in the Faculty (and this was the last time I played any role designed to make a difference to the direction or staffing of the Faculty – from this time on I have been completely sidelined and ignored). The outstanding candidate was a man coming from University of . The internal candidate did not have a Masters yet, so of course, she had no publications. After the interviews the Deputy Dean (who was a member of the Selection Committee) announced that this outstanding candidate was a paedophile. She said she had written evidence and had been contacted by five people from U to warn her. 

I wrote a Memo to the Head of Personnel saying I thought that that unexpected announcement made sane decision-making impossible and asking his guidance in whether this was a situation which needed correcting. He did nothing. After a long time I decided to ring the candidate and tell him to get the committee notes through Freedom of Information processes and to ask for my memo. He did. The Pro Vice Chancellor called me to his office and asked me if the committee had leaked. He asked me who he should be asking about whether they’d leaked information to that candidate, and he said the FOI request had caused a lot of trouble for him. I know he didn’t ask anyone else so I interpreted that as a threatening meeting..."

Since then I’ve applied for Research Leave to work on my next book, which is a biography. My application was rejected. The Manager of the Research Office, who is an administrator not an academic, informed me that writing a biography is a hobby, not a research project, and that the university may consider ordering me to stop work on the project. I’ve since won a prestigious Arts Fellowship to Antarctica to help me work on the biography but had to take Long Service Leave because my research leave was rejected.

I feel that the last five years has been an uninterrupted process of abuse and attack, that no positive messages are directed at me, that any email I get from any of my supervisors is likely to be the next attack, and that my closest colleagues have also come under constant attack. One of the members of my former team was made redundant, one left when she was not promoted despite an impressive CV and one is so disengaged he has sold his house and moved to Melbourne, and is on leave from which I doubt he’ll return.

There are no positive experiences for me except from the students and even though there are many wonderful colleagues there, they are so sad and jaded, even their presence doesn’t help. People have their doors shut and don’t speak to each other. When I got back from Antarctica I went back to work and found that I was sitting in the car for a long time before I got out. The students started telling me that because my courses had been removed from a lot of majors, they couldn’t complete their degrees. I didn’t know that my courses had been removed from majors, which means students in that major can’t do my courses. I found myself saying ‘I can’t help you’. And it isn’t normal for me, it isn’t something that sits well with me, and I felt so utterly helpless that one day I just decided not to go back.

It is a story which has cut short my career by more than twenty years but it is also a story of proper processes not being followed, of mediation meetings that were not set up, of complaints about inappropriate action not being addressed; of high achieving members of staff having their research options shut down until they stopped producing the publications needed by the University and of a culture which required generation of ideas through open discussion being transformed into corridors of closed doors. I never did return to either that University or any other.

A lot of my colleagues followed me out, into either reliance on a pension or, in one particularly tragic case, by ending his life. As you were quoted as saying in About The House, bullying has had a „profound effect on all aspects of a person‟s health as well as their work and family life‟. It certainly has had a profound impact on me. I have made this submission simply to make one small contribution to “the national evidence base on workplace bullying”.

Yours sincerely,

23 August 2012

November 02, 2012

Carmen de Jong

Carmen de Jong was recruited as a professor by the University of Savoy a few years ago (2006), to lead a special unit devoted to mountain. At that time, Annecy was applying to organize the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Carmen was asked to examine the question of artificial snow, but she gave "wrong" advice (not in favour of artificial snow) in a place and in a situation were the artificial snow and other ski industries were (and remain) very influential. Then, her unit was suppressed and she got into a lot of trouble. Now, it is getting even worse.    
Best regards            
L. G. M.

I forward the following message on behalf of Carmen de Jong:

I would like to follow on the contact made via Luis Gonzalez-Mestres, a colleague from a collective for the defence of independence of research.         
I am a geographer with PhD and educated in the UK, Germany and France. In 2006, I was recruited as professor at the University of Savoy in Chamberyin the domain of interdisciplinary and applied mountains sciences across three departments: Geography, Geology and Biology within the faculty of interdisciplinary mountain science. I was employed as scientific director of the Mountain Institute to coordinate international projects on state-of-the art mountains themes and develop applied research in close contact with mountain stakeholders.

In connection with my recruitment I was specifically asked to tackle themes such as artificial snow. But the moment I started to give talks, publish and organise research on artificial snow and climate change and coordinate large European projects, the trouble began.

The pressure on my university by the ski industry and local politicians to stop me from working on this theme was immense. In addition, the region was preparing the candidacy for the Winter Olympic Games of Annecy 2018, actively supported by my university. Although I brought in more than 4 million Euros of research funding a real witch-hunt began in order to destroy my scientific career. None of the steps taken to silence me were ever discussed or voted in any councils and I was never given a chance to defend myself in front of any councils.    
I was removed without evaluation or valid reason from all the European projects that I had initiated and coordinated. After I refused to bend to the pressures to resign from the direction of my CNRS mountain unit, it was closed. The managing director of the Mountain Institute was replaced by a non-specialist appointed directly by the local government of Savoy who started to define and block my research. All my funding, my PhD and postdoc students and trainees were taken away from me. My special benefits were cut, my work accidents refused, my international collaborations blocked, my travel permissions declined, my professional mobile phone cut off (and handed over to another person in Paris) and my post opened.

Although I had limited teaching, I was suddenly asked to do a full teaching load outside my qualifications and field of competences. An offer for a prestigious sabbatical at the University of Colorado was declined and the reasons falsified in the council meeting minutes. Everything that I have developed has been taken over by a neighboring institute. There have also been attempts to take away my office from me. In a last step to destroy me and my family (I have two children and a retired husband) the president, who has never met me, has announced with 4 weeks delay to more or less totally cut my salary for a year referring to my teaching load 2011/2012. This action comes as a complete surprise. The university has not written to me with reference to my teaching of last year for more than a year and has never answered my letters on this issue.             
I urgently need help. Please could you help me diffuse this information and become member of the Scifraud mailing list.    
Best regards from           
Carmen de Jong

November 01, 2012

Cause célèbre scholar queried Met managers

A psychology professor suspended after criticising university managers is to face a disciplinary hearing for alleged "gross misconduct".
Times Higher Education understands that Ian Parker, professor of psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University, will face two charges in relation to a confidential email sent to his colleagues about the appointment of a senior lecturer.

In the email, seen by THE, Professor Parker claims the appointment process was "not transparent to other members of the department" because staff had not been involved in shortlisting candidates and had been "discouraged" from attending the interviews. This "extraordinary state of affairs...may give rise to unfortunate (no doubt mistaken) perceptions about how open and fair this process was".

The senior lecturer appointed had their PhD supervised by the head of department, although Professor Parker says "there is nothing wrong with the prior connection". However, he adds, the lack of transparency raised "questions about the way the department is...being managed".

The message, which was also sent to John Brooks, Manchester Met's vice-chancellor, urges senior management to review their decision-making processes.

According to his supporters, Professor Parker, co-director of the department's Discourse Unit, will face charges that he "constructed and widely distributed an email [that] intended to undermine the credibility of a head of department", adding that this "constitutes a failure to comply with a reasonable management instruction".

The date of the disciplinary hearing has yet to be announced.

A petition demanding Professor Parker's reinstatement has received nearly 3,500 signatories. Noam Chomsky, emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has backed the scholar, and Manchester Met staff have voted for possible strike action over staff victimisation.

The university has refused to comment on the charges, although it previously claimed that speculation linking the suspension to questions of departmental "secrecy" had been "wholly inaccurate".


October 31, 2012

Why women leave academia and why universities should be worried

Young women scientists leave academia in far greater numbers than men for three reasons. During their time as PhD candidates, large numbers of women conclude that (i) the characteristics of academic careers are unappealing, (ii) the impediments they will encounter are disproportionate, and (iii) the sacrifices they will have to make are great.

This is the conclusion of The chemistry PhD: the impact on women's retention, a report for the UK Resource Centre for Women in SET and the Royal Society of Chemistry. In this report, the results of a longitudinal study with PhD students in chemistry in the UK are presented. Men and women show radically different developments regarding their intended future careers.

At the beginning of their studies, 72% of women express an intention to pursue careers as researchers, either in industry or academia. Among men, 61% express the same intention. By the third year, the proportion of men planning careers in research had dropped from 61% to 59%. But for the women, the number had plummeted from 72% in the first year to 37% as they finish their studies.

If we tease apart those who want to work as researchers in industry from those who want to work as researchers in academia, the third year numbers are alarming: 12% of the women and 21% of the men see academia as their preferred choice. This is not the number of PhD students who in fact do go to academia; it's the number who want to. 88% of the women don't even want academic careers, nor do 79% of the men! How can it be this bad? Why are universities such unattractive workplaces?

Part of The chemistry PhD discusses problems that arise while young researchers are PhD candidates, including too little supervision, too much supervision, focus on achieving experimental results rather than mastery of methodologies, and much more. The long-term effects, though, are reflected in the attitudes and beliefs about academia that emerge during this period.

The participants in the study identify many characteristics of academic careers that they find unappealing: the constant hunt for funding for research projects is a significant impediment for both men and women. But women in greater numbers than men see academic careers as all-consuming, solitary and as unnecessarily competitive.

Both men and women PhD candidates come to realise that a string of post-docs is part of a career path, and they see that this can require frequent moves and a lack of security about future employment. Women are more negatively affected than men by the competitiveness in this stage of an academic career and their concerns about competitiveness are fuelled, they say, by a relative lack of self-confidence. Women more than men see great sacrifice as a prerequisite for success in academia. This comes in part from their perception of women who have succeeded, from the nature of the available role models.

Successful female professors are perceived by female PhD candidates as displaying masculine characteristics, such as aggression and competitiveness, and they were often childless. As if all this were not enough, women PhD candidates had one experience that men never have. They were told that they would encounter problems along the way simply because they are women. They are told, in other words, that their gender will work against them. By following PhD candidates throughout their study and asking probing questions, we learn not only that the number of women in chemistry PhD programs who intend to pursue a career in academia falls dramatically, but we learn why.

This research and the new knowledge it produces should be required reading for everyone leading a university or a research group. The stories surely apply far beyond chemistry. Remember that it's not just women who find academia unappealing. Only 21% of the men wanted to head our way, too.

Universities will not survive as research institutions unless university leadership realises that the working conditions they offer dramatically reduce the size of the pool from which they recruit. We will not survive because we have no reason to believe we are attracting the best and the brightest. When industry is the more attractive employer, our credibility as the home of long-term, cutting edge, high-risk, profoundly creative research, is diminished.

The answers here lie in leadership and in changing our current culture to build a new one for new challenges. The job is significant and it will require cutting edge, high-risk leadership teamwork to succeed. Is your university ready?


October 30, 2012

Found guilty until proven innocent over unapproved research claims

An academic who believes he was suspended from his research after merely mentioning a controversial incident has said his case has serious implications for academic freedom. Stuart Macdonald was professor of information and organisation at the University of Sheffield until his retirement last year.

He told Times Higher Education that he was suspended a day after a discussion on research ethics and integrity at a July 2010 awayday for Sheffield's Management School, which was led by two members of the university's research ethics committee.

During the discussion Professor Macdonald mentioned the controversial Eastell-Blumsohn affair. As reported by THE in 2005, Richard Eastell, professor of bone metabolism at Sheffield, was investigated for publishing findings on Procter and Gamble's osteoporosis drug Actonel without having full access to the firm's drug trial data. The concerns were raised by Aubrey Blumsohn, who was then a senior lecturer in Professor Eastell's research unit.

A brief exchange of emails between Professor Macdonald and Colin Williams, director of research in the Management School, suggested the university believed, incorrectly, that Professor Macdonald's remarks implied he was carrying out his own research into the affair without ethical approval. Professor Macdonald was ultimately told in an email: "your research, now discovered, should be suspended", and he complied by halting all of his research activities.

Fifteen days later, he received an email from the chair of the research ethics committee, Richard Jenkins, saying a "misunderstanding" had occurred, although he was offered no apology or further explanation.

After failing to elicit either of these from the university, Professor Macdonald initiated a grievance complaint. He claimed the suspension contravened academic freedom because it punished him for merely mentioning something that was in the public domain.

"It is not possible to function properly as an academic when asking a question may bring arbitrary suspension, and when the knowing of something is prima facie evidence of unapproved research," he said.

He also claimed that the action contravened the university's procedures, which require oral and written warnings prior to a suspension.

His grievance complaint - which was brought before he was forced to retire after reaching retirement age - was dismissed.

"The more pressure I have applied, the more intransigent the university has become," Professor Macdonald said. "It struck me that my complaint was so clear that the university must eventually see sense, and I had no wish to cause it any embarrassment."

In a statement, the university insisted that Professor Macdonald was never "suspended from carrying out research", but was, instead, "asked to suspend any research he was carrying out that did not have prior ethics approval in line with the university's internal procedures".

"The university was able to quickly satisfy itself that Professor Macdonald was not carrying out any research that did not have prior ethics approval and as far as it was concerned the matter was swiftly resolved. The university has been satisfied throughout that its research ethics policy has always been used appropriately and the university acted within its procedures at all times," the statement said.
But Professor Macdonald responded: "All I knew at the time was that I was suspended from research. There was no explanation of why, or of what this meant. And despite my very best endeavours over two years, there has been no explanation since."


October 18, 2012

Suspension of Ian Parker from MMU update (October 16, 2012)

The first investigation meeting took place on 15 October, with Ian Parker, MMU academic and Human Resources personnel and University and College Union (UCU) representatives attending.

To clarify, to protect Ian Parker against unwarranted accusations and further damage to his reputation arising from rumours about what led to his suspension (and to address the claim by MMU that press reporting of the story has been ‘wholly inaccurate’), the precise charges are that Ian sent an email intended to undermine the credibility of a Head of Department and that sending this email constituted a failure to comply with a reasonable management instruction (the email was only sent internally, and Ian denies the charges).

The suspension and disciplinary process against Ian is clearly quite disproportionate to what he is alleged to have done, and we hope that MMU will now allow him to return to work. A decision on whether to end the suspension and facilitate a discussion about procedures in the department or whether to continue with this action, which is already taking its toll on undergraduate teaching and PhD supervision, is expected later in the week. We urge MMU to review its decision and acknowledge that its action so far have damaged its reputation nationally and internationally.


Please sign this petition to protest Ian’s suspension and call for his reinstatement.



October 14, 2012

It is back: Divestors of People Award - Awarded to Manchester Metropolitan University

Due to what happened to Dr D'Silva and what happened more recently with the suspension of Ian Parker, we decided to bring back the 'Divestors of People Award', and award it to Manchester Metropolitan University which seems to have a significant track record in meeting the criteria below.

 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. 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 demoralised, 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 to eliminate  staff. Some managers are untouchable despite their failures, while victims (targets) are not given fair hearings.

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. They fail to address management abuse.

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).

* 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 Management and Governors who failed to act.

October 07, 2012

Suspention of Ian Parker – international protest!

Dearest friends, something incredibly shocking has happened. Ian Parker has been suspended from Manchester Metropolitan University. It has happened suddenly and unexpectedly, and students and staff at the University have been given little to no explanation as to why.

Ian was suspended from work after having been unable to arrange, with barely 18 hours notice, for a union official to come with him to hear a charge that the university said amounted to ‘gross professional misconduct’. What this seems to mean is that Ian raised concerns within the University about the problem of secrecy and control in the department in which he works, and was suspended for doing so. Ian has had to leave his office and key, been told not to contact University staff and students, and his access to his email has been suspended.

For his students Ian has simply ‘disappeared’ overnight, and while he is keen to continue supervising and teaching, he is not allowed to. I could never fully express what effect Ian’s sudden, shocking and completely unjustified suspension might mean for students at MMU and for the wider international academic community. Ian’s suspension is happening against a wider backdrop in the UK where while universities are now charging students £9000 a year (and much more for international students), they are also cutting essential resources, often meaning staff have to work harder and complain less. This means that those staff who defend University as a space for open and democratic deliberation are often put under pressure to remain silent.

In fact another member of staff at MMU (and another member of the University and College Union- the UCU), Christine Vié, is also being victimised, and has been made compulsorily redundant (and there is an ongoing campaign to defend her). We are in shock, but only if we speak openly together will we be in a position to challenge and change what is happening to all of us. Openness and democratic debate are the hallmarks of good education. Yet secrecy and silencing are key issues here. Ian has been silenced but his work continues to speak.

Yesterday I looked at the principle aims of ‘Psychology, Politics, Resistance’, which Ian helped to set up in 1994 as a network of people who were prepared to oppose the abusive uses and oppressive consequences of psychology, to support individuals to challenge exploitation, to develop a collective active opposition to oppression, and to make this a key element in the education of all psychologists.

So, let’s act together, and follow Ian’s example, and speak out – tell as many people as we can, and come together collectively as an international critical community to call upon the management of MMU to come to a resolution of this problem and to reinstate Ian. Messages of protest can be sent to the Vice-Chancellor John Brooks (j.brooks) and the Head of the Department of Psychology Christine Horrocks (c.horrocks). These messages can be copied as messages of solidarity to the MMU UCU chair Pura Ariza (p.ariza) and it is imperative that, at the same time, support should be stepped up to support Christine Vié (c.vie).

The postgraduate students at MMU are sending a letter to the Vice Chancellor, and there will be flyers and posters put up on campus, and call outs in lectures all next week. Please do send letters and emails, and tell as many people as you can. We will keep you posted about further action, and do let us know if you have any ideas for how we can fight this together (because we can fight this together). Please feel free to email me china.t.mills.

In solidarity, China Mills (alongside many of the students at MMU)


Messages of protest can be sent to the Vice-Chancellor John Brooks ( and the Head of the Department of Psychology Christine Horrocks ( These messages can be copied as messages of solidarity to the MMU UCU chair Pura Ariza ( and it is imperative that, at the same time, support should be stepped up to support Christine Vié (

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Times Higher Education covered the above story online, but does not allow for comments...

And then they did allow for comments... Why the change of mind?

September 27, 2012

Head suspended after theology school protest

The head of a theology school at a Catholic university college has been suspended after he criticised plans to close his department. Anthony Towey, head of the School of Theology, Philosophy and History at St Mary's University College, Twickenham, was suspended last week "pending investigations into a very serious disciplinary matter", the college has confirmed.

The action follows protests over plans to merge Dr Towey's department with the School of Communication, Culture and Creative Arts. Academics at St Mary's, which hopes to become Britain's first Catholic university by 2013, fear the lack of a dedicated theology department may harm teaching and research as well as undermine the college's commitment to its Catholic mission.

Students told Times Higher Education that Dr Towey was interrupted while giving a Christology lecture on 17 September and escorted off the premises of the institution by a member of security. His suspension comes after he sent an email to staff and students informing them about the proposed merger, saying he was "completely in the dark" about how it might affect students.

The email, seen by THE, criticises the "sudden decision" to merge the schools which he says "runs contrary to St Mary's procedures". Dr Towey also mentions the "overwhelming and reasoned opposition to the proposal across some 60 academic and administrative staff" members and suggests students could complain to their union or the college's chair of governors. "It is a tremendous sadness that this sense of community is being dismantled," he adds.

Dr Towey has distributed a document making detailed criticisms of the merger plans, which were put forward by the college's principal Philip Esler, a Bible scholar and former chief executive of the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Lance Pettitt, head of the School of Communication, Culture and Creative Arts, has also said "the proposal to merge is ill-conceived, poorly researched and presents no coherent business case" in a draft response to the proposals.

However, St Mary's believes the merger will not only save money but will improve interdisciplinary research in religious studies. A spokesman added that Dr Towey had been suspended following "a grave breach of his professional duties" and that his teaching programmes would be fully covered.


August 23, 2012

We were in the wrong place at the wrong time...

I and my friends were bullied at Southampton University. We had no intention on competing with these academics, these bullies, but their actions have affected the rest of our lives. 

Angela had a nervous breakdown and never completely recovered.  She can work but she’s wary of academics. When she’s asked for a transcript since she intended to apply to graduate school in US the university provided one that listed courses that she never took! 

Theresa was told by her MA supervisor that he’d given her thesis another academic since 'he needed to increase the number of publications' since her thesis was ‘good’. She removed her MA from her CV, never again worked in that sub-field, and did a PhD at her undergraduate institution. 

Lucy can only work as a temp since the University refuses to give her a transcript from her either undergraduate or graduate degree so that she can apply for graduate school in the US, where she now lives, on the grounds that universities in the UK do not provide American style transcripts. This statement is untrue since two British universities have readily supplied American style transcripts to Theresa and I. 

Lucy was sent a letter about her MA but both the name of the MA and the courses listed were different to the ones she’d taken. She objected to these differences and she was told that the letter had to suffice. Lucy cannot apply to graduate school to retrain with a letter since the University she applied to in the US requires a transcript. 

Bill left his funded PhD place in his department after being falsely accused of many things because he thought that it was pointless being paid to be bullied. 

The link below describes my experience:

We were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Dr. Alicia Colson

August 22, 2012

The bullies of academia and suicide

About 20 bullying victims at one of Australia's leading universities have attempted or considered suicide, an inquiry has been told.

One female academic became so traumatised she tried to kill herself in her campus office, she told the federal parliamentary committee into workplace bullying.

Microbiologist Dr Michelle Adams later told The Daily Telegraph she swallowed "tablets" in February last year during a long-running campaign to stop bullying at Newcastle University.

"I am now medically retired and ... under the medical care of both a psychiatrist and a psychologist," the 46-year-old mother of two said.

Dr Adams told the inquiry she suffered "almost 10 years of bullying, harassment and victimisation" after reporting academic misconduct in 2003.

"When one act of bullying involved the theft of ... tuberculosis from my research laboratory, at least one colleague was of the opinion that 'things go missing all the time',"she said.

"When I explained I was scared the attacks would escalate to violence I was told I was 'over-reacting'."

In a letter to NSW and federal MPs, Dr Adams said an anti-bullying group at the university had collected "evidence about 20 victims of the bullying have either attempted or considered suicide".

The issues at Newcastle follow revelations during the inquiry that staff relations at the University of NSW had become so dysfunctional some employees spend days "crying in the toilets".

More than two thirds of the academic and general staff at UNSW say they had been bullied at work and some claim to have been sexually assaulted. University authorities have been accused of failing to address the issue.

The anti-bullying group at Newcastle told the inquiry 175 current and former staff and students had responded to an online survey.

In March this year Dr Adams was awarded more than $60,000 by the Workers Compensation Commission.

The University of Newcastle last night said it had "worked with Dr Adams for a number of years ... to determine the factual basis for her allegations and concerns" but had not been able to put her mind at rest on any issue she raised.

New Vice-Chancellor Professor Caroline McMillen said the university was committed to a workplace free from bullying: "Our staff embrace the code of conduct and I have found they are deeply committed to equity and excellence."


August 12, 2012

Workplace bullying at the University of... Inquiry into workplace bullying, House of Representatives Committees, Australia

Under the Terms of Reference for this Inquiry:
The prevalence of workplace bullying and the experience of victims; and role of workplace cultures in preventing and responding to bullying I wish to draw to your attention:

• the entrenched systematic culture of bullying at the University

• the lack of support from the University following my initial allegation of bullying; and more importantly

• the enforced punitive punishment regime I experienced following my submission of a formal grievance that attempted to expose bullying within the workplace.

 Brief summary of submission:

I experienced 5 years of bullying within my discipline (2000-2005):

• Constant changing of my work tasks (courses deleted without consultation that resulted in the development of new courses outside of my specialization);

• Constant public humiliation (belittling of my expertise/ideas at staff meetings); • Excessive teaching workload resulting in 75hr plus working week that prevented me from engaging fully with my research commitments;

• Withholding of financial resources allocated to cross-faculty courses that I was responsible for;

• Overt ostracisation following my support for two post-graduate student whistleblowers that were treated badly by senior staff Lack of support and punitive punishment following my formal allegation of bullying (2005-2008)

• Refusal of the University to allow me to return to my academic duties following sick leave for major depression in early 2005 which I claimed had resulted from bullying

• The University’s refusal to accept medical certificates from my GP, my personal psychiatrist reports and the University funded psychiatrist’s reports stating my medical fitness to re-engage with my academic duties

• Placed under restrictive workplace conditions following my objection to the removal of a ‘stop workplace bullying’ poster from my office door

• Stigmatisation of my mental health injury that I had experienced in early 2005 through an University management enforced three year punishment regime of social, professional and physical isolation on campus; and

• The development of a discriminatory survey by Human Resources to justify their draconian and punitive punishment and subsequent forced early retirement.

Dear Honourable MPs,

First, I must state that in July 2008 under considerable duress I signed a confidentiality agreement (aligned with a ‘voluntary’ redundancy) stating that I would not discuss my employment with a third person or take legal action against the University. However, I will always regret being complicit in a cover up of malicious workplace behaviour at the University.

Unfortunately, I personally know of too many instances where the complainant and/or whistleblower has been destroyed by a culture that promotes and condones workplace bullying. That the University places higher credibility to traits of malevolence, malice, cowardice and self-protection rather than uphold values of excellence and integrity is shameful and should be exposed...

More at:  - Submission Number 8

July 23, 2012

Australian Inquiry into workplace bullying - We need one in the UK too!

"The Committee encourages submissions to its inquiry from a wide range of individuals and organisations... More submissions will be added to the list when they are received and authorised for publication..."

Read some of the submissions, including one from the National Tertiary Education Union:

Time to have a similar inquiry into workplace bullying in the UK.

July 20, 2012

University of hard knocks

Staff relations at one of Australia's top universities have become so dysfunctional some employees spend working days "crying in the toilets". More than two thirds of the academic and general staff at the University of NSW - many in senior positions - said they had been bullied at work.

Some claimed to have been sexually assaulted. Many of the alleged bullies are women and university authorities have been accused of failing to address the issue, a federal parliamentary inquiry into workplace bullying has been told.

A submission to the inquiry prepared by the National Tertiary Education Union said a confidential survey of more than 550 UNSW staff uncovered complaints about "unfair treatment, public humiliation, arbitrary misuse of power and repeated shouting, swearing and threatening behaviour in their work units". Almost 40 respondents said they received or witnessed "unwanted sexual attention" while others reported "illegal discriminatory activity, pressure to retire and demeaning and discriminatory jokes".

One senior staff member was heard to comment on a colleague, saying she looked like "Princess Diana after the accident with the steering wheel through her face".

The submission said: "This was reported to senior management in the workplace but the respondent was unaware of any action taken.

"Some of the open-ended responses described incidences that amounted to physical and/or sexual assault.

"Another said that seeing colleagues crying in the toilets was a daily occurrence."

UNSW vice president of university services Neil Morris said yesterday university chiefs had met the NTEU to discuss the report on workplace bullying.

"While there are isolated cases of bullying -- as with any large organisation -- the university does not accept there is a culture or pattern of bullying at UNSW," Mr Morris said.

"None of our internal measures of bullying complaints or claims match the NTEU data and, in fact, are much lower."

Federal Tertiary Education Minister Senator Chris Evans did not respond to a request for comment.

NTEU branch president at UNSW Dr Sarah Gregson said in the submission she feared bullying was becoming an unacknowledged but deeply corrosive aspect of campus life: "The evidence we gathered suggested that, although UNSW has a bullying policy and other guidelines that outline acceptable workplace conduct, these policies are routinely ignored and harmful behaviour is often excused."

The submission said many staff feared speaking up about bullying, were demoralised and would like to leave UNSW.

"We were surprised at the number of relatively senior staff members who were also being bullied," it said.

The union has recommended a range of reforms.




Bullying in Australian universities is widespread and should be investigated across the tertiary sector, says the academic responsible for a damning report into one of Sydney's top universities.

Sarah Gregson's Report into Workplace Bullying at UNSW, first reported in the Herald in March, uncovered a culture of bullying and intimidation at the university, and has now been submitted to a federal inquiry into workplace bullying. Dr Gregson, an academic at the university and the local branch representative of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), said she would be lobbying the union to extend her survey to other institutions.

''I've sent that report to a range of activists around the union and they say there's nothing in there that they're not very familiar with, so we just need to keep continue to keep campaigning … We'd like the parliamentary inquiry to recommend improved legislation in the area.''

In an email to staff yesterday the vice-president, university services at UNSW, Neil Morris, rejected Dr Gregson's report, saying there was no pattern of bullying and the research methods were not sound...

Read more:


Imagine if there was in the UK a National Inquiry into Workplace Bullying just as the one taking place in Australia right now.  Imagine what it would uncover in UK universities... and why is UCU not asking for such an inquiry?

July 16, 2012

The Ten Recommended Administrative Measures

1. “Focus on the situation, issue, or behaviour, not the person.”

2. Replace quasi-judicial campus tribunals with administrative decision-making.

3. Unless evidence compels them, avoid forensic words like allegations and charges.

4. Keep the rules clear, fair, and simple; keep policy and procedure manuals short.

5. In the face of demands that a professor be punished, entertain not just the null hypothesis but the mobbing hypothesis.

6. Seek proximate, specific, depersonalized explanations for why some professor is on the outs, as opposed to distant, general, personal explanations.

7. Encourage mindfulness of all the bases on which academic mobbings occur.

8. Defend free expression and encourage dialogic outlets for it on campus.

9. Keep administration open and loose.

10. Answer internal mail.


June 25, 2012

Terri Ginsberg

William Randolph Woodson
Chancellor North Carolina State University
Raleigh North Carolina

Dear Mr. Woodson,

The Seriously Free Speech Committee is a Vancouver (B.C., Canada)-based group mandated to defend freedom of speech specifically in relation to issues of Palestinian rights or the criticism of Israeli policies. We write in support of Dr. Terri Ginsberg, whose credentials for a tenure-track position at NCSU were discounted in 2007-8 because of her expressed or implied political views. We are aware that the university’s legal counsel advised offering Dr. Ginsberg a grievance hearing, but that your predecessor as chancellor, supported by your Board of Governors, denied her this opportunity to seek a remedy.

This miscarriage of justice—devastating for the victim—is especially deplorable in light of the apparent praise given recent “Arab spring” events at the start of your 2011-2012 report (available online). The censorship of principled teachers like Dr. Ginsberg can only be seen as complicity in the continuing oppression of an already oppressed people in the Middle East, the Palestinians, with whom Dr. Ginsberg apparently expressed sympathy.

We are aware that Dr. Ginsberg has sought remediation through the courts. While it is not within our purview to address the court, we urge you to correct your predecessor’s mistake: to grant Dr. Ginsberg the grievance hearing she deserved and to offer her a substantial financial settlement to offset the financial hardship she has suffered as a consequence of the university’s apparent refusal to open itself to the play of ideas that should define higher education.

Even better would be to offer her the tenure- track position for which her department evidently considered her well qualified until the question of her politics arose. This is not the way for any university to establish a sound academic reputation, and we hope that you will see your way clear to set right, as far as it lies in your power, the injustice committed against Dr. Ginsberg.

Yours sincerely,
Sheila Delany for SFSC

June 14, 2012

Recognising and managing stress in academic life

Several surveys into occupational well-being name academics as one of the most stressed professional groups. Join our live chat, Friday 15 June, to explore how to manage academic stress.

Enter the words "academic stress" into any search engine and most of the articles and resources shared focus on helping students while they are at university. I know full well that higher education can be an assault on the senses, and most students will need help with a whole range of issues at some point, but how much support is there for those who make up the other part of academia, the staff of an institution?

There's evidence that support for academic staff is needed. A 2008 report from the University and College Union (UCU) revealed that most universities were failing to meet the standards for psychosocial working conditions set out by the Health and Safety Executive...

More info and details at:

June 13, 2012

The Perception of Postgraduate Students With Regard to Workplace Bullying

The main objective of the study includes the analysis of the experiences of postgraduate students regarding workplace bullying. These postgraduate students are employed in various business industries in South Africa. This study highlights the seriousness of workplace bullying. Actions need to be taken by all parties concerned to ensure that workplace bullying is adequately addressed in workplaces through policies and procedures, and by legislation. Until these changes are made, workplace bullying will continue to be a costly problem for employers and employees. An NAQ-R (Negative Act Questionnaire Revised) instrument is designed and employed to evaluate exposure to workplace bullying. The questionnaire elicits personal derogation (humiliation and personal criticism), work-related harassment (withholding of information and having one’s responsibilities removed), social isolation, physical violence, and intimidation and work overload. The research evidences that people do not recognise bullying when they experience it or do not realise when they are being bullied. The behaviour is hidden and trivial criticisms and isolating actions occur behind closed doors. In addition, professional people are too afraid to admit that they are being bullied. Interestingly, they are embarrassed, blame themselves and fear that the phenomenon would escalate.

 ...The self-righteous bully is a person who cannot accept that they could possibly be in the wrong. They are totally devoid of self-awareness and neither know nor care about the impact of their behaviour on other people. They are always right and others are always wrong. R. Namie and G. Namie (2009) described bullies as individuals who falsely believed they had more power than others did. Bullying seems not connected to gender (Peyton, 2003, p. 39). Peyton (2003) listed the following common characteristics of bullies:

(1) They are quicker to anger and sooner use force than others;
(2) They tend to have little empathy for the problems of the other person in the victim/bully relationship;
(3) They often have been exposed to models of aggressive behaviour themselves and chronically repeat the behaviour;
(4) They inappropriately perceive hostile intent in the actions of others;
(5) They focus on angry thoughts and are revengeful;
(6) They see aggression as the only way to preserve their self-image;
(7) They need to control others through verbal threats and physical actions;
(8) They exercise inconsistent discipline procedures at home;
(9) They perceive physical image as important for maintaining a feeling of power and control;
(10) They suffer physical and emotional abuse at home and have more family problems than usual;
(11) They create resentment and frustration in a peer group;
(12) They exhibit obsessive or rigid actions;
(13) They distort truth and reality and blame other people for errors;
(14) They are charming in public;
(15) They tend to be very insecure people and take credit for other people’s work;
(16) They do not want to hear the other side of the story.

The workplace bullying is a person with a history of aggressive behaviour. Their repetitive behaviour becomes habitual, which grows into a way of life, and in the case of the bully, it becomes the chosen method of relating to other human beings. This behaviour is harmful, destructive and often illegal (Lines, 2008).

...Some 25.6% of the respondents have experienced negative behaviour “now and then”, while 3.2% experienced negative acts of intimidation, rumours and gossiping behind their backs, facing insults and name calling on a weekly basis. Some 26.0% of the respondents have experienced physical and social isolation, prevented access to opportunities, being ignored and excluded, while 2.6% have experienced these negative acts weekly. Another 45.5% of the respondents experienced a threat to their professional status “now and then”, which included the withholding of information that negatively affected their performance, the removing of their responsibilities and to be replaced with unpleasant tasks as well as professional humiliation.

In total, 10.9% of the respondents have experienced these negative behaviours on a weekly basis. Excessive overwork, intimidation and tasks with unreasonable or impossible targets or deadlines are also negative behaviours experienced by most of the respondents. A third (33.5%) has experienced these negative acts “now and then”, while 6.5% have experienced it weekly. One of the worst negative behaviours of workplace bullying is physical violence which involves being shouted at, or being the target of spontaneous anger or rage. Some 21.3% of the respondents have experienced this behaviour “now and then”, while 0.6% has experienced it on a weekly basis.

One can perceive through the research done in the empirical study that people do not recognise bullying when they experience it or realise when they are being bullied as the behaviour is covert and trivial criticisms and isolating actions occur behind closed doors. What one person may consider to be bullying, another may not and this makes the management of the problem difficult. Bullying and harassment cases are not clear-cut and sometimes people are unsure whether the way they are being treated is acceptable or not. Another problem identified through research done is that many highly professional people are too afraid to admit to anyone outside or even to themselves that they are being bullied. They are too embarrassed and afraid that it would escalate or that it might even be their fault...

C. J. Botha, I. M. Herbst, A. Buys, Journal of US-China Public Administration, ISSN 1548-6591, October 2011, Vol. 8, No. 10, 1173-1195