July 25, 2018

Have you experienced bullying in academia? Share your stories - The Guardian

 Concern has been growing about bullying in the world of academia. We want to hear from academic staff about their experiences A top cancer genetics professor quit her job at the Institute of Cancer Research after facing multiple allegations of bullying dating back 12 years.

Prof Nazneen Rahman, who was head of genetics and epidemiology at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), was given leave of absence last November after a letter signed by 45 current and former employees accused her of “recurrent bullying and harassment”. The complainants claimed the ICR had failed to take appropriate action for years despite “multitudes of oral and written complaints” against Rahman at both the institute and the Marsden.

This is not an isolated case and concern has been growing about bullying in the world of academia. Earlier this month, the scientific journal Nature reported that the Max Planck Society, a prestigious research body in Germany, was investigating fresh allegations of bullying and sexual harassment. PhD students are thought to be particularly vulnerable because they depend on their supervisors for publications and references.

This can create a dangerous power imbalance. Share your experiences We want to hear from academic staff about the problem of bullying. Have you faced it? How good was your institution at responding to it? Do universities need to do more to tackle the problem?

Share your comments, experiences and thoughts – anonymously or otherwise – with us. You can get in touch by filling in the encrypted form below – anonymously, if you wish. Your responses will only be seen by the Guardian and we will feature some of them in our reporting.



Robina Cosser said...

A FORMER University of Queensland worker says she was publicly humiliated after her colleagues built an “effigy” of her in a busy campus corridor and used it for soccer practice.

An adult-sized bib was also ordered online, gift-wrapped and presented to mortified then-Business School staffer, Eileen George, 66, in front of co-workers, she has alleged.

Days later, Ms George said she was referred to, in an open office, as a “great tub of lard’’.

The incidents feature in a bullying complaint by the former finance and human resources officer who worked for UQ between 2009 and 2016.

Ms George, who is from the UK, also alleges her leave applications were ignored for months and in 2012 was denied a request to use her carers’ leave to rush to her 93-year-old late mother’s side in the UK ahead of life-threatening surgery.

This is the photo Eileen says was downloaded from her staff profile and stuck to an effigy placed in a public corridor at UQ.
The trip was only approved a week later after the faculty Dean became aware of her situation.

Ms George received a glowing reference as a “top-performing professional” from a UQ associate professor before a heart attack triggered her 2016 resignation.

She made a complaint later that year, alleging UQ “failed its duty of care” by allowing her to be “bullied, intimidated and humiliated” to the point that she sought counselling.

An internal HR investigation last month confirmed elements of Ms George’s claim, including that an “effigy” was built in 2011.

In an August letter, obtained by The Sunday Mail, HR associate director Anthony Lennon confirmed a UQ uniform and Ms George’s photo were placed on a traffic hat in a corridor.

Mr Lennon said a former staff member confirmed he was involved but denied kicking balls at it. A senior staffer immediately removed it when alerted, Mr Lennon said.

UQ yesterday said it did not condone bullying and the case was challenging given the lapse of time since the alleged incidents.

Ms George has alleged, in her UQ complaint, that the “effigy” was built out of an old gold-braided UQ uniform and her photo, and that two staff members kicked a soccer ball at it for three days.

In UQ’s letter, Mr Lennon also confirmed the adult bib gift, saying it was bought by the former staff member and left on her desk. He says the man indicated it was a joke in response to Ms George previously commenting she had spilt her lunch.

UQ found “further action may have been taken” had Ms George escalated matters at the time.

Eileen George says she was presented this adult bib, in wrapping paper, in front of co-workers after returning from lunch to her desk at the University of Queensland.

Ms George insisted she had made her superiors aware of her complaints and said the bib was “aimed at causing maximum humiliation” by presenting it in front of colleagues.

“My self-confidence and self-esteem have been eroded,” she said.

UQ yesterday said it did not condone bullying and the case was challenging given the lapse of time since the alleged incidents.


Unknown said...

I was subjected to extreme form of bullying and harassment when I was radiography student at Birmingham City University. I was denied marks which constitutes academic dishonesty. I was deliberately failed in clinical assessments, which as a result costed me my whole career. This betrayal was jointly perpetrated by a gang of university lecturers and their accomplices in the hospitals. The core module in which I was failed was vital for registration with Allied Health Professionals Council, and eventually, because of this dishonesty of my lecturers, I could not practice the profession towards which I dedicated my whole life. I now make living as warehouse operative, despite having transcript of BSc in diagnostic radiography.

Kind Regards