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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“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)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Marketing, marketing and more marketing

According to the marketing blurb of the University of Newcastle (UON)

"The University of Newcastle is a challenger brand. We don't define ourselves by where we sit relative to other organisations,..."

Two  questions:-
  1. A brand?  A challenger brand?  What, like sports shoes? Computers?
  2. If the University does NOT compare itself to other organisations, WHY DOES IT KEEP PUSHING THE FACT THAT IT IS IN THE TOP 3% IN THE WORLD UNIVERSITY RANKINGS?
By the way, the UON's position in the top 3% ONLY means that it is in the "top 251-275 group of universities". stop bullying with UoN stop bullying with UoN


  1. Not only is the humble cafe not safe from university marketing, the Newcastle Herald had a front page advertisement about some achiever from Newcastle University.

    I am now encouraging a boycott of both the Newcastle Herald and any cafes with the UoN cups. I have a choice and there are plenty of cafes who would like my money. Ditto print media. I refuse to buy or accept marketing from educational institutions which are government owned. A front page advert, banner style would have cost thousands.

    The University definitely does have something to hide. All of this hype and spin is to mask something sinister and dishonest I fear.

  2. This blog saved my life

  3. The university has now replaced the original flags with slogans with new ones. The new flags have a black background with the university logo on it. The Graduate school of business also has a flag similar in design hoisted above it.

    This means the University has yet again spent even more money on marketing.

    Also every cafe I have been in Newcastle so far has issued a UoN marketing cup, so the distribution is massive and extensive. They have achieved saturation level on this front.

    I refuse to patronise a cafe which uses these cups. A lot of other people feel the same way. Enough is enough. A university is not a business. Why is decent money being spent on this????

  4. The university logo is also present often as a corporate sponsor. For example, community colleges and on promotional material for community events. It is even on stickers placed on pavements.

    I would like to think this is not happening but it is. The money they are spending on advertising would be enough to run a new department for a whole year.

  5. I have some good news.

    Since the Uni marketing blitz has managed to eradicate my cafe habit I have a lot more spare income.

    In refusing to buy marketing from the University I am aware of how adverstising can distort the perception of what is truly real. I can make coffee at home without having to choke on lie after lie. I will spend the money I would have spent in cafes on something life affirming instead.

    I am sorry that the cafes I frequent don't get my patronage anymore. I am pretty sure one person's refusal means much to anyone, yet it matters very much to me.

    Dignity is important. The institution that destroyed me should be ignored as a personal choice. To have it invade areas of personal sanctity like a familiar coffee shop is to me disgusting.

    I want to feel safe after what happened to me at UoN. The constant barrage of print and media advertising and now coffee cups is a constant reminder of how ruthless the UoN is. I want to recover and be left alone now. I don't want an education anymore, just some peace.

  6. Google the words Community Identity Stability in sequence. Then come back and notice the University's use of the same rhetoric.

    "Our Community" - community
    "Your University" - identity
    "World Class Uni" - stability

  7. I'll tell you where I didn't find UoN coffee cups. The cafe run by the vietnamese and the greek cafe. I assume these types of people aren't part of the desirable marketing demographic.

  8. The UoN coffee cup - UPDATE

    You can tell the University is scrutinising this blog thoroughly because the cups have all suddenly gone. A university with a marketing agenda as strong as theirs would have printed literally thousands of marketing cups for distribution. To achieve the desired result the cups would have to be in cafes for at least two months, otherwise the whole exercise would be a complete waste of money.

    Exposing the Uni for being selective, racist and greedy the cups have suddenly disappeared. My question is, where are the surplus cups?

    How many cups were printed and what was the desired result of the marketing campaign?

    Why is such a high level of market saturation necessary for an institution which is world class with a good reputation?

    The marketing demographic the Uni seems to be targeting are white, middle class men. Women are apparently also included but they make such a big deal of it you wonder about the gender stereotypes they are reinforcing. Probably better if one was a young man with short hair at that University since they feature the most.

    One photo is of an ethic looking man who is a clone of the white students in appearance.

    The people selected for the campaigns have had their photos retouched and have been selected for their attractiveness as well.


  9. In a suburb of Newcastle I saw a poster from a shop front that said "congratulations to our 2013 graduates" on thick official university paraphernalia.


    Can the UoN please stop this blitzkreig of media assault. With every new facet I find the institution looks more and more desperate. The internet is also clogged with fake blogs run by the university and high budget youtube promotional videos.

    Sales are down. Perhaps they could put "your world class university" as a permanent sculpture somewhere or build a UoN styled theme park.

    By the way, with the current wave of allegations I would hope the UoN starts printing receipts just in case the product they are selling needs to be returned for refund or an exchange voucher.

    1. I had a ride on the bullying complaint rollercoaster and I thought I was going to die at some stages. Whoo!!!

  10. So I finally caved into peer pressure and bought myself a brand new degree model no. 22GBHA from one of the local education shops in Newcastle, the one with the seahorse head.

    The product came with a warranty and the packaging was very pretty. I was given a small plastic card with my photo on it as proof of purchase.

    The product started to malfunction about 3 months later, I noticed a change in reception and some of the stations were becoming distorted and hard to interpret. The unit should be able to receive a wide range of long distant signals including ones from overseas yet I couldn't even get the local ham radio segment.

    Later the unit started to make a low rumbling sound even when it was switched off. Parts started to fall off. Only the strongest knobs at the front stayed on.

    When I took the unit back it was still under warranty but the shop keeper said that I had voided this by using the unit outside the specified area. I said the unit was supposed to be used outside this region, it was part of the product description written in the manual.

    Getting no luck at the counter I complained to the manager who wanted proof that the unit was broken.
    The manager rudely implied that I had broken in on purpose, yet I was telling the truth, the unit was faulty.

    All I wanted was a functioning unit.

    With this discrepancy thrown at me, I decided to go to the small claims tribunal who said I should get an independent audit of the unit to see what was wrong with it. This technician just said it was broken.

    I was back where I started. The unit was rather expensive, attractive looking but not working properly. Someone suggested I get it repaired out of my own pocket but the product was expensive and so was the price to get it fixed. The repairs would have to be done in Canberra.

    At the moment the education company are looking into their product reliability. During this time the manager has been changed and my complaint is now irrelevant.

    I can't recommend this brand to any other customers. There are more reliable brands on the market. Surprising enough the older models which have been replaced with the newer ones were more reliable.

    There are very little negative customer reviews on the official website of the brand. I was normally shy of reading customer reviews on blogs but I should have. I found other people had trouble with many of the different products from this company.

    I found out some customers got injured using one of their products. If I had kept using the unit it could have shorted out completely and given me a fatal shock. The unit exported overseas was given uniformly bad reviews by experts in other companies.

    I like to buy and try local products except when they fall very short of my expectations. I need the unit to help complete my education and if it fails I will not be able to complete my studies.

    Not recommended. A second hand older model on ebay would be a far better choice, with the full seahorse and "I look ahead" logo.

  11. http://www.newcastle.edu.au/about-uon/governance-and-leadership/faculties-and-schools/faculty-of-education-and-arts/school-of-humanities-and-social-science/sidebar/john-germov


    What influences whether we lead a healthy or unhealthy lifestyle? What affects the choices we make about what we eat and drink? These are the kinds of questions that fascinate the sociologist in Professor John Germov.

    'Personal preference of course plays a part in all these matters. Yet, there are distinct social patterns in how and what we eat. For example, personal preference can't explain "national" cuisines. Think of India and curry, Japan and sushi. There are always larger forces at work – social, cultural, economic and historical.'


    How is this world class research let alone valid research? The professor possesses no real knowledge of how food is processed chemically or even farmed. What a sociologist should concern themselves is a facet of the people involved in the industrialisation of food. Or what food means to people.

    The interfaculty collaboration with nutrition and dietetics is unlikely to work. Science creates food unlikely to be harvested it's true. Why? Not all of it necessary. Why? There is nothing truly new about the food we ate before it became increasingly processed and packaged.

    What is changing is the processes applied to food. The strongest use of marketing and symbolism is in the food industry.

    The research if it is likely to be meaningful will be very useful to a food corporation wanting market information. Someone more astute later may want to measure the impact this knowledge has been in its application. I don't see a great amount of positive benefit though I would like to see the evidence first.

    One more thing, despite the outcome of the research is how the heading places the professor as some kind of saviour. Food is neither wicked or saintly. It is food.

    Food is not a health cure in itself. For example, a sandwich won't cure malaria. Yet some nutritional additives might alleviate or cure other conditions like scurvy or beriberi.

    The embarassing section equating Japan with sushi and India with curry is particularly of concern. With the direction of the research outline this comes across as assumptive about national profiles. Is the professor saving them from their ethnicity? If not wanting to create racial profiles why draw that assumption?

    If the professor uncovers an unseasonable trend for some foods the vast obligation I feel is to examine the marketing and lies the food industry propagate amongst the public. For example "it's mac time" or "things go better with coke". Perhaps someone knowlegable would say they don't. Or do they?

  12. Part of my cynicism about the research is because of the placement of the research agenda on the website. A marketing platform.

    I remember academics whose bragging point was research they had actually completed not topics they were investigating. They were generally quiet about it too.

    I hope John's chickens all hatch. I don't have a problem with him personally. I have a problem with dodgy research though. There is no huge advantage in biting off more than you can chew just to look scholarly.

    Of course I hope to be proved thoroughly wrong. The lack of a single objective query worries me all the while though.

    Humans are complicated. Researching humans usually involves very simple specific questions along a single line of enquiry. Kate Hartig taught me that as an undergraduate, how come a professor doesn't know this?

    Explaining that the research is a good idea because we live in an area with many vineyards and he likes to eat and drink fails to convince me that the research is worthwhile.

    1. Yeah - if you were a favourite you bragged about the paper you were THINKING about writing - that would keep you going for about six months. If you were not a favourite, you could publish papers and no-one would notice or it would never be mentioned! That is how you get such high-level academics at UoN who have published very very few peer-reviewed papers.

    2. Notice also how there is absolutely no reference to any one else's research in the outline. I realise it is an outline but there is no reference anywhere to other people's pre-existing research.

      It is harder to appear messianic or influential if one's research is an extension of an existing idea or hypothesis. Unfortunately in wanting to appear peer less this professor's research comes to the most grief in the peer review.

      The idea of studying food politics amongst humans is not an original idea. To claim so is fraudulent. I would be more inclined to think it was plausible if I could see the work of others being referred to at least once. I am not expecting a full bibliography in a marketing paragraph but a brief acknowledgement of the work of others.

      This professor is also Pro Vice Chancellor which to me suggests more responsibility and accountability as a way of leading by example. Someone in this high position should be way more measured with their claims.

      I could be wrong, maybe the research is very mature and well founded. It's just that it seems audacious and lazy to claim a new area of research with absolutely no references or relevance outside the whim of personal desire. Remember the university website is an academic platform as much as a marketing one.

      I don't see this kind of approach lifting the image of the University. Since it has got to this level though I guess they don't care what people think anymore. I personally wouldn't risk a profile like that, not with it being able to be accessed globally.

  13. Think that corporations don't lie to the public?


    The food industry should also be held just as accountable.

  14. ...after trying to return my 22GHBA unit (see above comments) I decided to go to a cafe. There the takeaway cups had the university logo on them.

    Swallowing my pride I ordered a coffee. I was served by a professor of coffee making. He explained he was researching the coffee ordering habits of customers in a joint collaboration with Dairy Farmers, Norco and Vitasoy.

    Who buys what kind of coffee? Who drinks it with soy? He mused. We need answers. What motivates people to pay for their drinks? Whose money is it anyway he asked, staring at the menu on the wall.

    After coffee I caught the bus. The driver, a professor of socioengineering was also collaborating in some high end research involving travelling habits and customers. Why do people travel to charlestown and then appear to catch the same kind of bus where they came from? This professor asked.

    I caught up with my friend later that afternoon who is a professor of physics collaborating with a government statistics database called the RTA after having a bingle at Nobby's beach with the above mentioned bus driver. I assume their collision is part of a new collaboration.

    I also have met quite a few professors of music who are collaborating between music databases and new contexts for music via technology. They usually own a laptop and an ipod with iTunes but not always. Their innovative research involves the science and maths faculties and also the graduate school of business. Some customers also have blue teeth apparently.

    With such a large amount of interfaculty collaboration I am glad the music devices are reasonably small.

    Finally I went to the mouth of the river and fell in. As I splashed about and swam to the shore I was glad I am a professor of botany in collaboration with the chemistry faculty. The seaweed tasted awful as I spat it out, it shouldn't even be up this far without a king tide. Perhaps if I had fallen sideways it wouldn't have ended up there. Maybe a small leatherjacket might have.

    Why does estuary seaweed taste so foul? I need answers. I need to be inclusive but diverse. No one bullies a person strewn in seaweed.

    A professor of art was recently arrested and charged for painting a side of a train outside a train yard. He is currently collaborating with the faculty of law alumni from a different university as he prepares his latest presentation. In court.

    That I thought was very hands on and innovative. Part of the challenger brand. The photomedia section of the arts faculty in collaboration with the police will also be there to give a brief slideshow presentation of the artists' previous output.

    I was told one faculty member likes to collaborate with themselves quite a lot which is a bit embarassing to repeat but I am sure can be tolerated as part of the healthy university approach.

  15. If you are gullible and uneducated you will get sucked in by marketing. For an academic institution to attempt this is not the greatest introduction to this "place of opportunity".

    What is truly hopeless about the University of Newcastle is that are all talk and no action. I can do better.

  16. * Is that they are all talk and no action