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)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bullying - the only response is to stand up against it

John Gustavsson has suggested these steps for school children and their parents – they have been adapted here to apply to bullying within the academic world.  They are not meant as a first step; they are meant to be applied only if you’ve tried to talk to the bully, your manager etc and they refuse to do something. 

The first thing to do in order to solve a problem is to expose it. By using these steps to call attention to the situation, you as a victim can make sure that others know that bullying occurs. They won’t be able to deny knowing about it.
Also, by standing up for yourself, you can preserve your self-esteem and also become more respected by others.

1) Do fight back.  “Bullies are just misunderstood and if you just hug them enough, they’ll be nice to you”.  That’s not true. Well, maybe at kindergarten.  Bullying can never be allowed to be free, and unless you fight back against the bully, it will be. “But what about turning the other cheek?” – If a burglar broke into your home, would you allow him to take what he wanted and not at least call the police to stop him?  This is the same with bullying: if a burglar-bully comes to steal your physical and mental health, your job or career, your relationships, your family, your income, etc, you have to fight back and stop him/her. 
Stealing your health, job, family relationships, friends, income..........

2) Terrorise your university or college’s administration.  Go into the
head of school, head of faculty or appropriate manager every day and inform him of the unsolved bullying issues. That way, he can’t really claim he didn’t know about it (that’s otherwise what bullies love to claim when asked about bullying). You may also, if he is not in his office or if he refuses to talk to you, put up post-it notes on his door detailing the abuse you’ve been victim of (or witnessed).

3) Invade the coffee room, reception, waiting room, or whatever is relevant. Just walk in and refuse to leave. Tell the relevant manager that it’s their responsibility to provide you with a safe environment, and that unfortunately the only safe place right now is their office, reception, waiting room etc. since that’s the only place bullies won’t go near. Tell them also that you’re going to be there as much as possible (bring your laptop, meet your students) as long as there is bullying going on. If they manage to push you out, just stand outside next to the door. Remember, this manager(s) is responsible for the allowing bullying to continue in their department/faculty.

4) Refuse to accept shared responsibility and never answer loaded questions. Bullies and their collaborators will ask tricky loaded questions to try and snare you and blame you for whatever has happened on you. Don’t answer at all. Understand that they are asking these questions so they can find something you did wrong, simply ask them what that has to do with the case, or tell them that whatever you were doing, you certainly didn’t do anything that could justify what the bully did to you.

5) Use social media. Go on blogs and forums and tell people about your experiences. Be sure to include the name of your university to warn others about it. And if you want to go one step further, include the vice-chancellor/chancellor/pro-vice chancellor's workplace email address and ask people to send emails asking why they’re not doing anything about the bullying. The key here is to make it uncomfortable for them to ignore bullying.  It will take time for them to respond to emails - Make sure the cost and effort of ignoring bullying is higher than the cost of fighting bullying. 

Of course, if you can, you should also use traditional media and get attention to your case.

If all of us at the University of Newcastle even took one of these steps, imagine the HUGE effect. 
If you have tried any of these, tell us what happened.
Come and meet us if you would like to (on/off campus) and we can discuss strategies or group actions.

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