Bullying at the University of Newcastle (Australia)
We are working to highlight and stop academic workplace bullying at the University of Newcastle, Australia. We are a group of staff and students who have been bullied for speaking out about misconduct.
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This will help us gather as much information as possible so that we can put an end to this bullying with its’ decades-long history.
“Systemic bullying, hazing and abuse generally are identified with poor, weak or toxic organizational cultures. Cultures that are toxic have stated ethical values that are espoused but not employed, and other non-ethical values which are operational, dominant, but unstated.
Such cultures thrive when good people are silent, silenced, or pushed out; when bad apples are vocal, retained, promoted, and empowered; and when the neutral majority remain silent in order to survive. Those who are most successful in such a toxic culture are those who have adapted to it, or adopted it as their own”. (McKay, Arnold, Fratzl & Thomas, 2008)
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Silencing of whistleblowers, gagging clauses and now silencing of political activities at the University of Newcastle
The former Labor government, with the support of the Greens, enacted the SSAF legislation in 2011. The legislation re-imposes a compulsory fee on students to make them pay for basic services that should be freely provided at university campuses. It contains the stipulation that funds raised from the fee cannot be used to support political parties or the candidacy of a person for any political office.
The purpose of this anti-democratic stipulation has been clear since the legislation was introduced—to prevent student organisations from making financial grants or donations to political parties or candidates in an election, while no such restriction applies to granting funds to organisations of a religious, sporting or social nature.
Now, for the first time at any university in Australia, University of Newcastle Clubs and Societies is re-interpreting the SSAF to justify proscribing political activities that have been carried out on campuses for decades."
"It is not accidental that the management of a university has begun to re-interpret the fee legislation in a way that facilitates the suppression of political activity. The political atmosphere is changing rapidly and the conditions are emerging where large numbers of students will be turning to politics, especially to socialist politics, to fight against the attacks being waged by governments of all stripes on living standards, the erosion of democratic rights and the dangers of war.
The IYSSE warns that the UoN Services’s re-interpretation of the SSAF legislation is setting a precedent that will be used to prevent students from developing the political means to fight these attacks through the organisation of political lectures, classes, meetings, debates and demonstrations.
We therefore call on all students, student clubs and student unions across Australia to insist that UoN Services withdraws its “interpretation” of SSAF and upholds the democratic right of students to engage, without management interference, in political activity on campus."
For the full statement and report see http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/03/07/newc-m07.html
Friday, March 7, 2014
the indifference of those who should have known better;
the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most;
that has made it possible for evil to triumph.
- Haile Selassie
Her story was published in the newspaper.
"After my story was published in the Herald, I was informed that the Vice Chancellor, , was going to make "an example of me". " (emphasis added)
The senior lecturer subsequently lost her job at the university.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
He maintained that "strong group cohesion can in fact contribute to defective decision making which, in turn, may lead to a policy disaster. He defined groupthink as a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action".
Paul 't Hart states that the results can be devastating, leading to
“To preserve the clubby atmosphere,” says ’t Hart, “group members suppress personal doubts, silence dissenters, and follow the leader’s suggestions”. Alternative opinions, questions and statements of uncomfortable truth – even silences – are interpreted as personal attacks on the leadership.
- Illusion of invulnerability –Creates excessive optimism that encourages taking extreme risks.
- Collective rationalization – Members discount warnings and do not reconsider their assumptions.
- Belief in inherent morality – Members believe in the rightness of their cause and therefore ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions.
- Stereotyped views of out-groups – Negative views of “enemy” make effective responses to conflict seem unnecessary.
- Direct pressure on dissenters – Members are under pressure not to express arguments against any of the group’s views.
- Self-censorship – Doubts and deviations from the perceived group consensus are not expressed.
- Illusion of unanimity – The majority view and judgments are assumed to be unanimous.
- Self-appointed ‘mindguards’ – Members protect the group and the leader from information that is problematic or contradictory to the group’s cohesiveness, view, and/or decisions. (emphasis added).
Looks like the University of Newcastle would be a perfect case study on Groupthink.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
"TODAY’S release of the QS World University Ranking by Subject is another ho-hum affair. It’s not that it doesn’t have some semblance of truth as to the nature of the university sector in Australia, but it’s so broad-brushstroke that it’s hard discern any detail or nuance. "
"Yet six universities from the Group of Eight so completely dominate the ranking (from a local perspective at least), they leave little breathing room for anyone else."
"And we know from the recent Excellence in Research for Australia audit that this is not the case. Yes, the Group of Eight is dominant in research across the disciplines, but there are pockets of excellence."
"You might be the best in the world in a niche area, but unless you have a blockbuster globally recognisable brand you don’t get a look in on league tables that wrangle a mixed methodology into some distorted sense of order." (emphasis added)
- The UoN website states that "The University of Newcastle's Civil and Structural Engineering discipline has entered the world's Top 50 in the most recent QS World University Rankings by Subject list increasing its ranking by 14 places up to 45th in the world. "
"As has been pointed out before, and will be again, the QS ranking is so volatile that a university can move up or down 10 places in any one year and no one bats an eye lid."
- UoN website "Published by QS in the UK today, the University of Newcastle has been ranked in the world's top 100 universities for three subjects and in the top 200 universities for a further nine subjects."
- Vice-Chancellor, Professor Caroline McMillen, said UON's excellent performance in the 2014 QS subject rankings built on the University's growing global reputation for excellence in education, and research and innovation.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Action by HR: "..... said (without consulting any colleagues or documentation) that the process had been handled according to policy and that nothing would happen unless a formal complaint was made which I did not do"
Action by Head of School: " On .........., I was told by ......... that I could not go to my office during working hours because she needed .......to be there and ........said that ........would not come in to her office if I was in my office. She told me that I could work at home although I stated that I did not have the facilities (e.g. computer, specialised linguistic analysis software licensed to the university computer) that I needed in order to continue the NHMRC research. (despite ........ undertaking to provide me with research infrastructure for my NHMRC Post-doctoral Fellowship – According to this grant application, ........ undertook to provide me with the research infrastructure necessary for this research (“Shared office space and shared access to computers will be provided through the School, along with support for general consumables, email, internet, library access. The School will provide access to software for linguistic analyses and recording equipment that are already available in the School from the completion of previously funded research in the area of discourse analysis. The University will provide the infrastructure support for the financial management of funds received.)”. At that stage, I had over a year of my NHMRC fellowship to complete".
Lecturer lost her research and clinical education position at the University of Newcastle.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
45 (yes, forty-five) respondents to our survey about bullying at UoN had attempted or considered suicide. We do know of at least one attempted suicide on the university campus. 62% of the 195 survey respondents also reported sleep problems and 56% reported suffering from depression. It is well known that Charlotte Dawson suffered from bouts of depression.
The suicide of Charlotte Dawson is a tragedy. Any suicide is a tragedy and an overwhelming loss. That people are pushed that far, whether by cyber-bulllying or workplace bullying, is a crime. This is why we continue to fight against the entrenched bullying culture and cover-up at the University of Newcastle.