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)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Universities and dissent

In an unusual article, department chair and dean Rob Jenkins, discusses views on dissent in academia.

He has observed three strategies most commonly used to deal with dissent.
  1. Punish or make examples of people who openly disagree with them (there are always ways to do this e.g. denial of legitimate requests, sudden appplication of previously ignored policies, etc).
  2. Ignore those who are dissenting - don't speakto them, don't respond to their emails, don't acknnowledge them i.e. act as if they don't exist.
  3. Try to win the dissenters over and bring them into the fold.  This can be done through bribery, placing them on "key" committees, etc.
Jenkins says that all three of these fail.

Jenkins states that the most effective way to deal with dissenters in an open-minded, inclusive and collaborative way.  The leader may make decisions that the dissenters approve of (because "dissidents are often right").  More importantly, dissidents feel that they have been heard and this views taken seriously.

Senior management at the University of Newcastle take note: -
"the very best leaders welcome a healthy dissent, because it keeps them honest and because they understand that, if no one is questioning what they’re doing, they’re probably not doing anything worthwhile".

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