Worth Sharing: Abusers and Enablers in Faculty Culture

Approximate Reading Time: < 1 minute

Academe is full of Petruchios looking for their next Kate.

Source: Abusers and Enablers in Faculty Culture

This article is absolutely bang on.

In academia:

  • Abuse is normalized.
  • Abusers destabilize their targets.
  • Abuse thrives because co-workers enable it.
  • It’s easier to blame the victim than change the system.

When I was up for tenure at my “old” institution, I had to petition the “authorities” to replace my current department head by a former department head on my tenure review committee because my current department head had already spent several years making my life miserable, and there was no way he could be unbiased. I was made to feel weak by the criticism leveled at me for taking this move, and rumours started flying that I was mentally unstable. Never mind the fact that I had been teaching for about 20 years, and had had 5 previous department heads report favorably on my teaching ability and my dedication to the department.

I won tenure; the situation in my department became steadily worse (for all the reasons above, and worse), and I ultimately had to give up my tenure and quit my job. In legal circles, they often call this sort of thing “constructive dismissal“.

My faculty association told me, at the time, that I had no case, and told me to simply “keep my head down”. They were much more interested in trying to get me to change what I was doing so as not to annoy administration than they were in standing up for a union member.

They forced me into “mediation”, and told me that my prior sexual abuse was why I was unable to get along now.

I suspect this sort of strategy is pretty common among faculty associations.

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