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.

Help make a difference –

*answer our survey,

*contribute to the blog, or

*contact us.

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)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Stop Bullying at Uni of Newcastle (Oz)

We are a group of people who have all spoken out about wrongdoing here and have been bullied into silence.  From our experiences, we feel very strongly that the situation cannot continue.  To end the bullying, we need to have information on the extent and type of bullying that is going on.  This is why we are asking people to fill in this survey.

We are very aware how devastating bullying can be and we do not intend to make anything worse for you.  That is why we assure you that this survey is completely anonymous and no details (e.g. ISP addresses) will be tracked.

Please help us to end this bullying! Click on the survey link on the right.

If you would like to share your story, please add to our blog - you can post anonymously to this blog and no details (e.g. ISP addresses) will be tracked.  PLEASE NOTE:  Do not include any identifying details in your blogs - we are not responsible for the information posted on this site.


It is a huge support to others to hear your stories of bullying so please contribute if you feel you are able to.

43 comments:

  1. The worst thing is not to be bullied by one person but it is the collusion and silence by everyone and the lengths that the Uni goes to to silence anyone who tries to do the right thing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. My name is Michelle Adams. I did not set up this web page but I am grateful to the people who did. One of the most difficult things I had to deal with being a victim of bullying at Newcastle University was being ostracized by those I felt were friends and colleagues within the organisation. It is hard enough dealing with the bullies, but when those you trusted turn a blind eye to what is happening you are really put into a place that makes you feel like you are alone. I often wonder whether these people would be like those in other places and times who turned a blind eye to other atrocities’ like treatment of the blacks under apartheid, the gassing of the Jewish during the war etc etc. It is only when people stand up and say that this behaviour is not acceptable can there be change. It can not be the victims alone that fight, but the community as a whole. For those of you that are being or have been bullied, you are not alone. Use this website as a place to tell your stories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should tell people which department you were working for. In this way, we know who were the "bad rats" at somewhere it had happened.

      Delete
  3. I have not experienced bullying. I am curious how you people have?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Michelle, I have heard about your story. I wish I could be as brave as you in coming forward. I am in a similar situation, and when I tried to speak up I was bullied into silence, and my career threatened. I, like many others, simply don't know what to do to find any kind of resolution or justice, and am too afraid to speak up further. The 'culture' at Newcastle University is one of intimidation and bullies seem to get rewarded while whistleblowers are punished. Anyone interested should check out online articles published in the Herald called 'Newcastle uni bully claims: Academic says harassment led to illness' (17 March 2010) and 'Staff and students back Newcastle University bully claims' (18 March 2010). Reading these helped me realise I wasn't alone in my experience. Anyone else out there thinking you're alone, you are not.

    ReplyDelete
  5. @Michelle. "All it takes for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing" As you say, it cannot be the victims alone that fight.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you to those people who came and spoke to me after the Walk of Pride in Newcastle on Sunday. The horrific stories of bullying at Uni of Newcastle and its devasting affect on people's mental health just highlights to me how important it is to work together to try and change what I believe is an endemic problem.I like the quote from Charlie (6 October), but the truth is good people do something.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Powerful stories, every single one of them. Such a great read, thanks! If anyone needs any
    bullying advice
    they should check out that link; it has a lot of good info.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think this blog is an excellent initiative and I would encourage people to use it to tell their stories.

    ReplyDelete
  9. For the past year I have been completing postgraduate studies at Newcastle Uni under a supervisor who constantly bullied, degraded, and disrespected me. This person spent most of the grant money for my project on their own research, insisted I work unreasonable hours (10-12 hours a day seven days a week) with no holidays, half of that time on their own research (with no credit to myself), and gave what I felt was poor advice for my project and forced me to follow it, even if I disagreed. Most of all, they treated me as worthless, constantly criticised my work in a way that was not at all constructive, and spoke badly of me to their peers and mine. I am a hard-working student with a sound record of academic achievement, and have never before had such behaviour directed at me, and it was enormously damaging to my self-esteem and sense of self-worth.

    I attempted to change supervisors, even lining up a replacement, who was just as well qualified for my project. When I tried to officially change I was told by my head of school that my supervisor had threatened to cut funding if I didn’t remain their student. The head of school stated (in writing) that they were concerned for my supervisor's reputation and the university’s reputation with the funding party – they didn’t show any concern for myself or what I had been through. In the end I was told that I had to accept this person as my supervisor or I would immediately be expelled. My attempts to explain my supervisor’s behaviour and the impact it had on me fell on deaf ears. Instead of being listened to, I was treated with scorn and told that the word of a postgraduate student wasn’t going to be believed over the word of a staff, and a report was filed against me for trying to discredit a staff member. Ironically, I had only wanted to change supervisors to escape the abuse, and had no intent to discredit anyone.

    My workplace is one of fear, as I have now been thrown back to the lion, who is furious that I attempted to change supervisor and raise complaints against them, and determined to ‘prove’ that I am a poor student. Meetings with them are simply opportunities for derision of myself and my work, and are in no way constructive. More than once I have heard them loudly putting me down to other staff from down the hall, and from the distance I hear them from I know others can hear as well. People I don’t even know seem to know me or know of me, presumably from this person. As a normally quiet and shy person, this is incredibly intimidating for me.

    I am at a loss as to what to do. The uni has failed to protect me and the stress of this situation has taken over my life. I would not say I have entered severe depression yet, but I can see it ending that way. My academic career is too important to me not to fight for, but I fear it is a fight I will not be allowed to win. Even if my work is to standard my supervisor will try to prevent me from graduating to prove their own point.

    I am sure that in writing this anyone who knows of this situation will be able to identify me, but that is a risk I feel I have to take. I think it is important that others out there know what has happened to me. If we all stay silent out of fear, nothing will be changed.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am very thankful to have come across this website.

    The 2010 Times Higher Education world university rankings places my university among the top 30 in the world. Nevertheless, bullying of academics is not uncommon here. I am one of the recent casualties. I have been told by some senior adminstrators to keep quiet for my own good. It is difficult for me to understand why doing the right thing is seen as so wrong. I'm told that I'm not meant to understand this, that's just the way it is.

    My story is about scholarly misconduct. With support from their Dean, my former colleagues vehemently denied any wrong doing. They tried to discredit me and my work, they besmirched, and bullied, and they asserted that I was boardering on libel. After a lengthy investigation by a university appointed committee they were found to have indeed breached scholarly integrity. In the end, they admitted wrong doing, going from vehement denial to admission of misconduct. The committee concluded that they failed to account for my material intellectual contributions on which their paper was based.

    The authors were asked to write to the editor to have my name added to the article they published, and to ensure that a correction was made on online databases. Having my name added to the authorship is what the university acknowledged as the appropriate remedy.

    Their Dean was not happy with the outcome. The journal where the manuscript in question was published had just changed editors. The new editor wrote to me saying that he was “not inclined to grant this request to add an author to a published manuscript...” The outcome of the universities investigation on scholarly misconduct seems not to concern the editor.

    A higher administrator at my university sent a letter to me yesterday stating that there is nothing more that the university or the authors who breached the policy on scholarly integrity are "obliged to do or can do." "The matter is now closed" the letter said, and that I should immediately stop making any demands regarding this issue. It was strong letter. The letter ended with: "I trust that you understand my position, and that you will comply with my request."

    Integrity in scholarship and teaching continues to be a fundamental value upon which the university is founded. Without scholarly integrity, the trust the public places in all research and scholarly activity is violated.

    If a correction is not made to the article it would send a very wrong message to the public as well as to the university community, making a mockery of the scholarly integrity policy that universities and scientific journals say are sacrosanct.

    I read this on your website:
    "Nothing strengthens authority as much as silence." Leonardo da Vinci - "All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men [or good women] do nothing." Winston Churchill.

    What do I now do?

    ReplyDelete
  11. If you want to find bullying at its highest look into the International Office. That place will provide many a story of how people are bullied by anyone who holds any power of staff. No matter how many times people speak up about it, it's ignored. An office that loses 20 or so staff in 12 months is a big indicator of how unhappy staff are with the work enviorment.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I first got sick in 2008. I really did not know what was happening to me, and I doubt I will ever be able to find sufficient words to say how I felt. I did not know I was being “bullied” because I did not know what being “bullied” was. All I knew is that my self esteem and self worth had completely crashed. I went from being a confident, happy academic to someone scared to leave my office. I really believe no one can understand what it is like to be in the dark hole of depression unless they have been there. Nothing is rational in this space. The only way I can describe it is like being Alice in Wonderland. Nothing makes sense. It actually hurts to live. It was only when a friend sent me a medical article on the psychological impact of bullying that I realised what was happening to me. When I went back to work after my first major depressive episode I told my supervisor what had happened and explained that I felt if I did not have to work with the “bully” that I would be alright. The response was to insist I work more closely with the “bully” and to increase my contact with this person.

    I have spoken to many victims of bullying at Newcastle University. EVERYONE I have spoken to has either been told not to complain as the situation will only get worse, or if they have lodged complaints the University has found they are without substance. The fact is, you can not “pretend” psychological injury. The proof therefore exists as medical evidence. If you are found beaten and broken there is no question you have been attacked, and psychological injury is no different. I would hope our Chancellor as a clinical psychologist and advocate for mental health would recognise this.

    In the end you have to decide what is important. Each of our personal cases are horrific, but in my opinion the possibility of a successful investigation into “bullying” is limited by the fact that people simply do not understand what “bullying” is. If we are ashamed or frightened to speak out then the “bullying” behaviour that I believe is endemic at the University of Newcastle will never change. That is one of the reasons I decided that I would go public. I am not ashamed that I have a mental illness. I am not ashamed of being a victim of bullying. I am ashamed that I have seen other colleagues bullied and never stood up to support them. Now I know how horribly they suffered. Not speaking out made me no better then the bullies.

    In the end speaking out has destroyed my career, and I am sad about this. But what keeps me speaking out is the fact that the bullying almost destroyed my life. I am grateful I still have that.

    ReplyDelete
  13. There is fear and this is natural. Some of those who posted comments here are fearful of possible repercussions. Fear sustains bullying. Help promote this blog to raise awareness. There is more strength in numbers - and publicity. This particular university seems to have a major problem with workplace bullying. Silence is not helpful. - www.bulliedacademics.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  14. Almost every workplace has its bully, but the culture at the University of Newcastle seems to be based on bullying, from the very highest level down. Since Dawkins corporatised the universities and imposed a top-down managerial culture that took decision-making away from academics and gave it to professional managers bullying has become rife in many universities. This is because managers took the place of collegially elected Deans and VCs were not primus inter pares academics, but CEOs of businesses that were there to make money.

    All that does not however explain why the University of NewcaSTle is so very much worse in this unacademic, top-down behaviour, aka bullying. This sort of behaviour predates Dawkins. It started when J.J. Auchmuty retired as founding VC. He left some weird structures that worked when he was there but when Don George took over, it fell apart -- not because of George himself, who was a decent enough bloke in his own way -- but because he was off-campus a lot and this allowed hugely ambitious mediocrities like Michael Carter, Professor of Sociology, to take over. Carter was so plausible he argued his way onto most committees and was Deputy Chairman of Senate three times, when it was intended as a one term appointment. It was a perfect set up for Carter, who was a good hater of those who opposed him. I was Professor of Education through this time, and left entirely because of Carter's time-wasting and damaging manipulations. The extent of the damage he caused, personal, academic and economic (he laid the university open to several law suits, all of which the university lost), was prodigious. My guess is that the present Newcastle culture of bullying, denial and nastiness is a direct legacy from Carter (who is long since dead in case you are wondering at my frankness).


    What follow is

    ReplyDelete
  15. Can not give name as I need my jobOctober 17, 2010 at 5:18 PM

    John Biggs is right. The bullying management approach at Newcastle University is top down. I work with some of the University's highest managers and I have seen how they deal with people who speak out or dare to have a different opinion then they do. They are labeled trouble makers, useless employees and often crazy. My observations are that if you dare speak out you might as well start looking for a new job. You will be easily replaced, usually with a buddy of the person who systematically gets rid of you.

    ReplyDelete
  16. If bullying is not a problem at Newcastle University then why would the University management be scared to have an independent investigation into it. The only thing I can think of is they have something to hide. Or is it that the senior most managers are planning to retire, and they want to stop any investigation until they can leave with their bonuses.

    ReplyDelete
  17. If anyone has any problem at the university, they are encouraged to make a complaint (according to the policies). BUT when you make a complaint and give written proof, your proof is discarded purely on the basis of the bully lying to the complaints investigating officer. So their word is law and no amount of proof will change the outcome which will always be in the bullies' favour. The university loves to refer to the policies but the policies are just there for show because very few people actually follow them when there is plagiarism, promotion irregularities, employment cover-ups, etc. As long as there is a policy... everything is fine!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Following my comment, here is a URL to a chapter on Newcastle I wrote in a book I edited with Richard Davis, The Subversion of Australian Universities. It describes several cases that Michael Carter, in his vindictiveness and incompetence, completely stuffed up -- but where he was supported by admin from the top down.
    http://www.bmartin.cc/dissent/documents/sau/sau09rev.pdf

    ReplyDelete
  19. Frustrated coworkerOctober 19, 2010 at 2:05 PM

    Two of my fellow colleagues, unrelated to each other and working in different fields, have been removed from teaching positions half way through their contracts over the last year. The first was removed after reporting plagiarism from a student to the course co-ordinator, and then the head of school when nothing was done about it. No action has been taken on the plagiarism, but the tutor was given a warning, and told they will not be invited to teach the course again. The second was removed, despite being a very competent and capable teacher, because the course co-ordinator wanted to give the job to a buddy of theirs instead. In this case this person was not even paid for the work they had done for the first six weeks of term, and given notification of their termination just hours before a tutorial.

    My two colleagues were excellent teachers that genuinely cared about their students and put in effort well above and beyond what was required of them, and did not deserve to be treated this way. I am frustrated to see this happen to them, but aside from supporting them and being willing to back them up, I don't know what I can do to help. I assisted one of them in making a complaint, but the uni showed indifference and said that no wrong had been done, and the person ended up becoming even more discouraged. The uni will continue to steamroll over good academics if we are not given a more effective way of dealing with grievances.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I just wanted to add to the comment regarding the International Office (Anonymous October 16). It hasn't just been the last 12 months that that office has been affected by bullying - that culture was alive and well years before. The promise of an operational review leading to a non-bullying culture simply has not eventuated and people who are affected by bullying or have had to watch others being bullied and been fearful themselves, can't wait forever.

    ReplyDelete
  21. This was sent to me today by a friend. It might help others.
    http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/5102.htm

    ReplyDelete
  22. Recently I have been questioned on my agenda for going public about my experiences. Be assured it is not for support for my individual case. My case is mine alone to fight.
    Many people have spoken to me about why they do not want to go public about their cases. In all these cases the fear of what they feel the University can take from them by going public is still too great. Some of these people, for example, are postgraduate students, bullied by their supervisors and under threat from them about losing their scholarships or research funding if they speak against what I believe is academic misconduct. These are vulnerable people, easy targets for bullies. I am in a different situation. For me I have already lost everything, but not of course my integrity. I consider myself a strong person, but having felt death was the only way out of the abuse I have been subjected to, and now having spoken to others in similar psychological states, I believe that it is only a matter of time and there will be a death from the psychological abuse inflicted by bullying at the University. That is why I cannot allow this behaviour to continue. So for those who are questioning my agenda, the reason is simply I want people who are being bullied to know they are not alone.

    ReplyDelete
  23. If only there was a way for all the victims of bullying at Newcastle University to come together without fear and take their message as a collective to management. What happened to the Union investigation into bullying? It was reported that it was a real problem from their data collected.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I work at the University of Wollongong. Over the past couple of years, several people from the University of Newcastle have contacted me about their problems. They contacted me because of my work on suppression of dissent (http://www.bmartin.cc/dissent/).

    My advice for responding to bullying is presented at http://www.bmartin.cc/pubs/07bullying.html
    It's frequently a waste of time or worse to seek a resolution through formal procedures. By far the most powerful action against bullying is providing high-quality evidence to a wider audience, but you shouldn't do this unless you're prepared for the consequences, which can be increased bullying, loss of your position or even blacklisting.

    On dealing with plagiarism, see my article "Plagiarism struggles", http://www.bmartin.cc/pubs/08plagiary.html

    Unfortunately, it is all too common for supervisors to exploit their research students. I wrote about this 25 years ago (http://www.bmartin.cc/pubs/86is/exploitation.html) and things don't seem to have changed. Changing supervisors is the first option but is not always possible. Changing universities is another option.

    Seldom is there an easy answer. I normally recommend talking to others you trust and carefully considering a range of options. This is spelled out in The Whistleblower's Handbook (http://www.bmartin.cc/pubs/99wh.html).

    In these sorts of situations, your health, relationships and integrity should be your top priorities. Protect yourself first. If you can challenge the problem as well, that's great, but no one should feel obliged to sacrifice themselves.

    ReplyDelete
  25. "One's dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but cannot be taken away unless it is surrendered."
    ---Michael J. Fox

    Take example of those who speak up. Not people like me who are too frightened to take risk for what is right. I have seen many of my colleagues bullied into silence. I did nothing thinking it was safer for my own career. I agree with the comment made in another comment that was posted - "good people do something", but I guess most of us aren't really "good people". I wonder whether in the end my career will be worth it knowing this, but still I am too scared to risk signing my name.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Further to Brian Martin's comments, I have found exploitation of RhD students by supervisors to be astoundingly common. I was speaking with someone some time ago who had just finished their PhD, and they informed me that their supervisor had insisted on being a secondary or primary author on each of the half a dozen or so papers the student had produced, despite having so little to do with their production the supervisor didn't even know what they were about. While this student expressed annoyance at this fact and seemed to find it unfair, they also dismissed it as 'just the way things are done'. More worrying, they openly stated that they expected that they too would get 'free' papers out of their students once they were higher up the chain. Not knowing any better and being new to research as well at the time, I also believed this to be the norm, until recent discussion with a former academic and some reading on the issue led me to question this.

    My gut tells me that putting your name on a paper just because you supervised the person, but without doing any actual intellectual or physical work on the paper, is wrong. Further, it seems logical to me that if this is treated with total acceptance by students and staff alike, as it seems to be, then current students will go on to become exploitative supervisors simply through the belief that it is how it is meant to be done, as the student I spoke with seemed to, and the cycle would perpetuate. So why would they be so casual and devil-may-care about it?

    It seems to be happening in such a widespread and open way, and so expected by everyone, that I feel I must be missing something. Is it not wrong after all, but completely acceptable, for some reason I am unaware of? Is it a grey area, and up to the individual case? Or are we all just turning a blind eye out of ignorance, or pretending we don't know the truth, because then we would be held responsible for letting it continue?

    What do all you out there think?

    ReplyDelete
  27. Yes, of course it is wrong,Exploited. But it is not only a matter of individual evil, it is systemic. The way universities are funded and the way people are promoted, much more on research publications than on teaching ability, the pressure is immense to keep churning out those papers, even if you didn't do the work. That is not justify the practice of stealing the intellectual property of others, but to explain why i think it is more common today than in it used to be. But you don't have to do it. You will if you are an unprincipled bastard albeit a highly pressured one.

    ReplyDelete
  28. This is to those who know someone who is being bullied. I speak not as a victim but as a colleague of someone who has survived bullying for 2 years but refuses to give up.

    Yes, it may be difficult or impossible for you to speak out for someone who is being bullied and that is reasonable as it is often livelihoods at stake. "Good people do something” can mean just being there to support the bullied. Let them know they are not alone, that you believe them and that you believe in them. It does not have to be a commitment to fight with them; they will understand that. Your support alone will go a long way.

    However, when the time is right, do consider whether you will stand up or stand back. With websites like this and the wider publicity of bullying at Newcastle it appears that the time may soon be right.

    ReplyDelete
  29. What keeps a bully strong is power. A bully only has power if they think they have something they can still take from you. For most victims of bullying there comes a time when there is nothing else the bully can take, and then the outcome can take two paths. Realising they have nothing, the victim is destroyed, or realising they have nothing to lose the victim is empowered. Nothing is more frightening to a bully, then their empowered victim!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I agree 100% with Michelle Adams - when you don't have a job anymore, have lost friends, can't work in your chosen profession, have been ostracised by former colleagues, acquaintances, fellow researchers,etc, then you are empowered because everything has been taken from you except your integrity. Workplace bullies often feel threatened by the abilities of the victim - now they should be even more frightened when the victim, instead of vanishing as the bully had hoped, becomes stronger and more purposeful! Never underestimate the anger and determination of a victim with little left to lose.

    ReplyDelete
  31. See http://www.universitytorontofraud.com

    ReplyDelete
  32. I agree with the comments posted about the vulnerability of students, but the problem does extend beyond simply a staff versus student situation. I believe my problems started in 2003 when I reported a fellow academic for failing to recognise the contributions of a student in several conference publications. As principal investigator for the project I knew exactly the contribution of the student - it was significant and I have no doubt she should have been an author on the publications. I would have had no doubt in listing her as an author had I been involved in the publications, but surprisingly I, the principal investigator, only discovered the publications by accident, and was also excluded as an author. By 2009 when the academic I reported was “counselled” for a minor breach of academic misconduct, I had been suspended from my position. The academic concerned is today still working at the university, surrounded by my old colleagues who support and sympathise with him for the wrong I have done in “dobbing him in”. My career is over because of what has happened, but I have no regrets in standing up for my student. I guess though for other students who are bullied and mistreated by staff, their problem is they often don’t get support from people who are in the position to help. Likewise, however, staff who are bullied and mistreated by other staff often don’t get support from people who are in the position to help them either. I do not support the reason why people do not speak out for the truth, but understand the fear associated with it. It is hard to give up your career and to have your reputation destroyed in the name of integrity, but unless we are willing to say “enough is enough” then the dishonest behaviour will continue.

    ReplyDelete
  33. What a pack of losers -my experience is that false accusations of bullying are the last resort of cowards. Could it be that you're simply not good enough but can't bear to hear the truth. Get a life, try and get a job in the real world and stop the pathetic bleating. Sick and tired of whingers.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I guess the difference between Anonymous 11 November 2010 and some of us is that we are not ashamed to put our names to our postings. We are not ashamed to admit we aren’t perfect. We are ashamed to be part of a community where both children and adults are treated so badly by other “human beings” that suicide is the only escape. If speaking out against this is “whinging”, so be it. Personally I am sick and tired of bullies and those who condone this narcissistic behaviour.

    ReplyDelete
  35. @anonymous 11 November . Hahahah.........what an hilarious comment. How IRONIC ! Someone bullying on an antibullying website, calling these courageous people cowards and being a coward themselves by not stating who they are. TOO funny.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Bullied but not beatenNovember 15, 2010 at 12:34 AM

    Part I

    I am one of the few people I know that has managed to find some resolution for my story of bullying. I will avoid going into specific details of my case here, but suffice to say my life was almost destroyed by a bully and the university’s subsequent reaction to my attempts to free myself from the abuse I faced and to ‘silence’ me. I would like to share here my tips for surviving bullying at Newcastle Uni, a problem that I have known for some time to be endemic and very serious. Please note everyone’s situation is different, and these tips only represent my experience and may not apply to everyone.

    First of all, LOOK AFTER YOURSELF

    1. If your bully is affecting your self-esteem, get a second opinion. Talk to people – anyone who will listen – friends, family. Don’t keep it to yourself. The bully is only able to convince you that you are hopeless if you have no one telling you otherwise. Put the bully’s words to the ears of people who care about you. See if they laugh at the ridiculous things the bully is claiming, or if they grow angry that you are being treated that way. These reactions reduce the power the bully holds over you.

    2. Understand and learn about bullying and its effects. Read up on depression, work-related stress, and anxiety (but don’t go overboard). Recognise that these are symptoms of abuse, and not shortcomings within yourself. Be realistic, but also gentle with yourself. Being bullied is devastating. Don’t expect to function at 100%, or feel angry with yourself when you do not. In short, you already have an enemy in your bully, you don’t need to make one in yourself.

    3. Remind yourself that people have long memories, and the academic world is small. You may feel frustrated at being bullied and seeing others bullied, but there are only so many victims the bully can go through, and institutions they can move between, before their past starts catching up with them. Maybe they seem to be bullying only those with little or no authority, but you never know who THOSE people are friends with. Good, pleasant people, on the other hand, are usually widely regarded and remembered as good, pleasant people. Being a jerk will sometimes get you ahead, but in the long run, good references will be hard to come by.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Bullied but not beatenNovember 15, 2010 at 12:44 AM

    Part II

    Further, PROTECT YOURSELF

    4. In my experience, reporting your complaint officially is, sadly, a complete no-no. Quite frankly, the policies simply don’t work, and the people who should protect you just won’t. This is disgraceful and utterly unacceptable, but it is the way it stands at Newcastle Uni. All official complaints serve to do is bring yourself to the attention of the authorities and alert them that you are likely to be a trouble-maker and may end up making the uni look bad. This allows them to start pre-emptive defamation of your character.
    I’m sure many of you out there would disagree with this, and in principle I do as well – I know bullying will never change unless enough people speak up, and keeping quiet is exactly what the uni WANTS you to do. But when you are feeling the most heat, you need to look after yourself, first. You can fight for change for others later. Pick your battles.

    5. Don’t give anyone ammunition to use against you. If asked to meet conditions, meet them to the letter. Remain calm, don’t lose your temper, no matter how unfair a situation might seem. Appear to be complicit. Do this early, and you will be left alone. Take the time to gather evidence in peace, and mount your case carefully. When the time comes, you will be more believable if you have a flawless record, not a record of (so the uni will claim) disrupting staff harmony and being difficult. This has the added benefit that positive reports from peers and supervisors will be generated in the meantime, and can be used later to prove that your abilities and personality are, by admission of the very people persecuting you, not what they are now claiming.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Bullied but not beatenNovember 15, 2010 at 12:47 AM

    Part III

    When the time comes, TAKE ACTION

    6. Wait it out, and be patient. This was one of the hardest things for me to do. The natural impulse is to speak out against injustice, and inaction feels like condoning the crime. But guilt will prove itself over time. In my case one of the offences committed against me was plagiarism of my work. I waited patiently until, so confident was the bully in their ability to get away with what they had done, they eventually slipped up – they sent a document incriminating themselves to a colleague they thought was ‘on side’ with their criminal acts, and who subsequently passed it onto me. With this document I no longer had to ‘prove’ anything, and had no one doubting my claims. Remember that you are in the right, and so you have nothing to be afraid of, because you have nothing to hide. The bully does. That gives you an enormous advantage.

    7. Don’t be afraid to fight in whatever way is available to you. I achieved justice against my bully by fighting back at them, using the same tactics they did. I learnt to think like the bully. I learnt what would matter to them and how to use that to my advantage. I am ashamed that I did this, and yet I think I would do it again. I spent a long while wondering whether I had become as bad as the bully, had stooped to their level. In the end I know I acted out of nothing more than self-defence, and would never, ever have used these tactics on someone undeserving. Of course, who is to say who is ‘undeserving’? It is a fine line to step around. Perhaps this is a poor lesson in integrity, but it is certainly a lesson in survival. I was able to survive and achieve a measure of justice against a serial bully that ruined the careers and lives of more than half a dozen people, and nearly ruined mine. The official channels didn’t work. Fighting dirty did. Take from that what you will.

    8. A cause is difficult to fight alone. Get help from others. I drew colleagues to my cause, and together we were able to confront the bully and hold them accountable for their actions. I could not have achieved this alone – the bully needed to feel the peer pressure from those around them to change their behaviour. However, this was another moral dilemma I struggled with. How can what I did be considered any different to ‘academic mobbing’? Perhaps it isn’t, and perhaps some out there will disagree with this decision. I can only tell you that it was ultimately effective. Just be absolutely sure your cause is right before you use it.

    Above all, you are not alone. Take heart. We CAN beat this.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I guess the difference between Anonymous 11 November 2010 and some of us is that he is the one of the bullies. He is not ironic but in the fear. Amount of viewers (+2500) and respond on this website threatens to stop his daily bullying activity. It's sad when you can't tell to your friend how good job have you done on the daily base. It's sad that you didn't accomplish much intellectually in your life and that your existence is based only on your bullying activity. Your comment tell us that you need urgent medical assistance. There is more to come...

    ReplyDelete
  40. My department: there are seven academics whose offices are nearby. This year four have left, purely, 100%, due to unbearable bullying and a complete lack of UoN management to do a thing about it, even though fully informed. This is the golden rule of looking after your own health first - but it is just so very sad that a career is affected this way.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I am really stuggling with Bullying at work. I have got to the point that after a week off I come in and within just 3 hours am back to the state I felt like before. This is not my normal charachter, I am always happy and joking around the office, but everyone is able to notice how withdrawn I have become and the unusual quietness of me.
    I just cannot stand this pressure, the constant remarks about being sacked, and the day to day not being spoken to.
    Worst of all I am not the only one int he area being treated like this.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Wishing you all the best in your fight for justice.

    ReplyDelete