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)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Robust academic discussion versus bullying

In the University of Newcastle blog, Professor Caroline McMillen states:-

"It is always important for any workplace to understand the spectrum of behaviours that do and do not constitute bullying. At what point, for instance, does a robust academic discussion – an essential component of being part of the global academy – move beyond the boundaries of reasonable debate and into the domain of bullying?" (emphasis added).

We agree that it is important to understand what is and what is not bullying.  However, are the following actions part of a "robust academic discussion" or have they moved "into the domain of bullying"?

A few of the huge number of experiences reported to us:-
  • ”Suggestions (by deans, DVCs, HOS etc) that family members (1 student, 1
    academic) at the Uni would have degree/career interfered with if I persisted in my complaints”
  • “tried to do what the Uni complaints website said, and go through an informal process, with
    mediation…Now I am unemployed”.
  • “In the supervision meetings I am told my ideas are rubbish. After the meetings, the supervisors present my ideas”,
  • "Move out of your office, I am not prepared to discuss this with you.  Do not contact me - only contact the Head of School". .
  • Following the theft of a virulent strain of tuberculosis from her research lab - "When I explained I was scared the attacks would further escalate to violence I was told I was "over reacting"".
  •  described the physical bullying that he received and stated that he did not think that he “will ever be able to forgive them who are responsible for this pain in my life. I never knew injustice and discrimination happens in developed countries like Australia”. 
  • "told I will fail my course in front of other because my standard of work is garbadge."
  • "I was not to "enter the Geography building or have contact with students or staff in that area".
  • "Being forced to perform tasks outside of current job description with no negotiation, expected to work longer hours ie work 8hrs but only paid 7hrs, must share diary with supervisor & note where I am at all times"
  • "Threatened that I might lose my job. The bully made it clear that she was responsible for my appointment and that she could influence whether it continued or not. "
  • "The worst experience was when I was dismissed from a position after inadvertently uncovering a serious breach of security procedure by a senior manager. My dismissal was orchestrated through intermediaries, with no contact with the bully. "
  • "they were ostracised for identifying some serious issues with a project, which was not welcome news. "Despite good and cogent reasoning, along with offering solutions, they were belittled in open forum, one was bullied into accepting a demotion the other sidelined and reassigned to several mundane and some doomed tasks. "
  • "One manager belittling a female general staff in front of others (eg; one example at a meeting where she was not present questioning whether she was capable of performing the most menial of tasks. - this was the manager on his 'best behaviour' - he was outright abusive to her face in the form of so called jokes at her expense.)".
We would like to meet Professor McMillen and her management team to provide details of the bullying that has occurred at the University - this could help to clarify what does and what does not constitute a "robust academic discussion".

1 comment:

  1. Surely calling a "hunger strike" "camping" is no discussion, let alone robust or academic.

    The above is what Caroline McMillen does!

    Therefore, we question her integrity.