harassment • bullying • mobbing
This website is published with great regret. I have repeatedly tried to get Grant MacEwan University to address these concern privately, but they adamantly refuse and are intent at suppressing this information. This website exists to help me heal, to inform and assist those still at MacEwan, to increase public awareness, and to reduce the probability of a similar occurrence at another educational institution. This website contains contemporary records that substantiate the information in the summaries below.
It has taken me a long time to make sense of what happened to me. As succinctly as I can put it:
I was faculty at MacEwan, active in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL), active in institutional affairs, requested to sit on institutional committees, and an advocate for quality educational programming. Sometime in 2008, one or more MacEwan Administrator decided that I must go. Allegations against me were fabricated and exaggerated. Policy and process were abandoned to bias and control the process, to expedite the process, and to prevent appeals. These Administrators ignored their own legal advice. They suppressed an arbitration decision provided by their lawyer because it did not support their objective. They were judge, jury, and executioner with one objective: get rid of me.
My responses and defenses were ignored and my concerns and complaints were dismissed. (I later discovered that the person I was submitting the concerns and complaints to was a member of the group, and that her involvement in the group was purposely suppressed for exactly this reason.) The Faculty Association told me that my issues were not in the perview of the Faculty Association; they repeatedly refused to represent me. I was ultimately forced out of MacEwan after over three years of this treatment. Now years later, I still suffer from the abuse.
I FOIP'd MacEwan and received records showing collusion of administrators; that the VP Academic's involvement was purposely not disclosed so she could appear impartial, receive and hear my complaints, and then dismiss them; that administrators were struggling to justify terminating me; that their own attorney did not support their actions; that their own attorney provided them with an arbitration decision confirming my innocence (they ignored this document); that they knowingly and purposely biased “independent” investigations; and that the VP Academic lied about receiving independent reports of my guilt, and used this fabricated evidence to justify terminating me.
Today's Administration and Faculty Association are focused on suppressing these events instead of fixing the problems. By not addressing the problem, they are abusers themselves and condoning the abuse of current faculty and staff. This is not how a real university operates nor is it in the best interests of MacEwan students, staff, faculty, or MacEwan itself.
A more comprehensive summary is available here.
A summary of what I knew at the time of my forced departure is available here: my final expression of concern and plea.
The worst form of abuse?
Studies and surveys all rank psychological abuse (emotional abuse) as equal to or of greater severity than sexual abuse, with physical abuse being third. This applies to both children and adults. One survey on the worst form of abuse resulted in psychological abuse receiving three times more votes than sexual abuse and six times more votes than physical abuse.3 A victims reflection:
Wounds from physical abuse heal, but the emotional scars remain.
Sexual abuse leaves no marks, but the emotional scars remain.
Emotional abuse haunts you forever.
Researchers deem Academic Mobbing an egregious form of psychological abuse.
Forms of psychological abuse include belittling, bullying, degrading, dominating, excluding, favoriting, gaslighting, gossiping, harassing, humiliating, isolating, scapegoating, sabotaging, shunning, smearing, terrorizing, threatening, tormenting, verbal aggression, yelling, and many, many, many more.
Kenneth Westhues on academic mobbing
The more clever and effective strategy is to wear the target down emotionally by shunning, gossip, ridicule, bureaucratic hassles, and withholding of deserved rewards. … Many targets crumble, flee to a job elsewhere, or take early retirement. Others surrender to the collective will, behaving thereafter like a dog that has been bested by another dog in a fight for dominance.
If the target refuses to leave or acquiesce, … the object [becomes] to destroy the good name that is any professor’s main resource, to expose the target as not worth listening to. Public censure by the university administration leaves the target stigmatized for life. Formal dismissal with attendant publicity is social elimination in its most conclusive form.
Most [targets] will be idealistic high achievers with loyalties higher than the local powers that be. Most of the mobbing targets I have studied were dumbstruck that such impassioned collective opprobrium could be heaped on them. … They trusted overmuch in reason, truth, goodness, and written guarantees of academic freedom and tenure.
Linda Shallcross on academic mobbing
Workplace mobbing is a ‘virus’ or a ‘cancer’ that spreads through malicious gossip, rumour, hearsay, and unfounded accusations. It is done with deliberate intent to have those targeted ‘eliminated’ or ‘forced out’ of their employment.
Those targeted for mobbing are often:
• change agents
• high achievers
• known for their commitment to human rights
Anton Hout on workplace mobbing
Mobbing occurs in environments conducive to its development: … workplaces with poor management lacking in conflict resolution skills and lacking in awareness about mobbing and its consequences. Worse still are workplaces where management knowingly utilizes mobbing tactics as a means to eliminate staff in spite of the, sometimes fatal, devastation it causes.
The bullies will systematically discredit their target to erode any support the target may seek out later. Bullies slander their target’s reputation to anyone who will listen: co-workers, management, union representatives, human resources, etc.
A mobbing is this larger involvement of the group in the bullying. Management and unions withdraw support and eventually participate in attacking the target with as much enthusiasm as the (original) bully. Co-workers are afraid for themselves and either look the other way or actively participate. The group is set against the individual.
[Workplace mobbing] is a dysfunctional group response to the abuse of one of its members. Rather than address the abuse, the group instead seeks to silence and destroy the member. It is like a disease that causes the body’s immune system to destroy healthy parts of itself.
More information on academic mobbing
- Professor Kenneth Westhues (UToronto)
- Workplace mobbing
- The mobbing portal
- Overcoming Bullying
- Workplace Bullying Institute
- Workplace Bullying (Wikipedia)
- Alberta Workplace Harassment
- Alberta Workplace Bullying
- Human Resources Proactive
- Anatomy of an Academic Mobbing (lecture)
- Alberta Bullying Reseach, Resources, and Recover Center
- <and many other websites and scholarly articles via searches>
Make no mistake, mobbing is devastating, and leads some targets to suicide. If you — the reader — are the victim of bullying, harassment, and/or assault and those responsible aren't doing anything about it (or they are the ones engaged in it), you need proof: emails, letters, recorded conversations, etc. You also need support: at minimum, find a confidant, a lawyer, and a support group. Engage the people and organizations — unions, human resources, etc. — that are suppose to assist you. If they do, great. If they don't, you have a claim against them as well.