Boston University administrators have a unique (and memorable) way of chairing and running meetings. If someone says something they disagree with, the person is told to “shut up,” called a liar, berated, ridiculed, told that he is mentally ill, called names, or in some other way has his morals and character attacked. At least that is how Film Studies Program Director Roy Grundmann, two department Chairmen (Charles Merzbacher and Paul Schneider), and two Deans (John Schulz and Thomas Fiedler) have responded or encouraged individuals under them to respond, over a period of more than six years, when I have said something they disliked or disagreed with. I would note for the record that, in each and every instance, I scrupulously avoided responding in kind to the shouted insults, abuse, and personal attacks on my morals, sanity, and character. In each and every instance of abuse, I have chosen to sit silently and not reply with more than a few quietly uttered appeals for respect, civility, or fair treatment. (The page titled “Public Shaming as an Administrative Technique,” available in the side menu, gives a fair description of my general mode of response to the verbal abuse I have endured—abuse in the instances cited on that page that took the form of my Dean and my department Chairman shouting at me and criticizing my morals and character in front of groups of students deliberately to humiliate and embarrass me, and to attempt to undermine my standing in front of my charges to try to force me to quit.)
However, given the fact that the sessions of verbal abuse have taken place in public forums, in front of many others (which of course adds to the professional inappropriateness of the event), the screaming/shouting/name-calling/personal attack sessions have been witnessed by numerous other faculty and staff members. In many cases, records of the events have survived in a series of emails exchanges I have had with colleagues who were present at the meetings.
Though the emails and memos I have chosen to reprint below mention only a tiny fraction of the abuse I have been subjected to at meetings, I thought I would share this small sample with my readers. I could fill the entire site with emails and other contemporaneous written descriptions of these events. Note that though the College of Communication Dean, Film and Television Department Chairman, and Film Studies Program Director still, to this day, deny that any of these events—these loud, protracted, public bouts of name-calling, character-assassination and screaming abuse—ever took place, not a single one of my correspondents expresses the least bit of confusion or doubt about what I am talking about or referring to when I write to them. They (and dozens of other faculty, staff members, and students) were there to witness the nastiness first-hand since it was conducted in public areas (to maximize the shame, intimidation, and pressure on me to stop filing my reports of ethical violations and professional misconduct). They have no doubts about whether all of these things really happened.
This is how Boston University administrators ran meetings I was present at (and how they still run them, as is proven by the fact that much of the material below describes meetings that took place in recent weeks and months)--as confirmed in writing by other faculty members who were present and saw and heard it all happen right in front of their eyes and ears. The John Silber past is still very much alive in the BU of Robert Brown and his administrative buddies. Alas. —Ray Carney
Post Script: For another illustration of how meetings are conducted at Boston University, see "Negotiating with Boston University, Part 2," available in the side menu under the listings for February, 2015.
I wrote the following email to my department Chairman about a department meeting he organized and chaired at which I was subject to a more or less continuous barrage of shouted personal attacks. Since I reprint the complete text of the email on a page of the site devoted to the censorship of my publications (see near the bottom of the page titled “Censorship, Punishment, Abuse--Being Banned in Boston,” available in the side menu), I only quote excerpts from the beginning and end of it here. —R.C.
I’ll end with excerpts from two lengthy memos, one dated January 2013 and the other February 2013, I wrote my department Chairman and College Dean protesting the profoundly disrespectful and unprofessional treatment I experienced at a Dec. 13, 2012 meeting chaired by College of Communication Dean Thomas Fiedler--a meeting at which Dean Thomas Fiedler, Associate Dean James Shanahan, department Chairman Paul Schneider, and university Counsel Erika Geetter were all in attendance. (I have a briefer account of this same meeting on the site page titled “L'Affaire Rappaport: A case study in faculty treatment at Boston University.”) —R.C.
Notwithstanding the stated purpose of the meeting, less than an hour in all was devoted to allowing me to present information or to answer questions. The rest of the time involved subjecting me to a wide-range of verbal and emotional abuse, attacking my character, ideas, and publications, and indulging in different forms of name-calling and character assassination. (Without any prompting from me, the lawyer I had brought with me stopped the meeting dead at one point and heatedly denounced the entire event as a “Star Chamber Proceeding.” No one on the other side of the table replied or denied his accusation.)
Another lengthy part of the meeting consisted of Chairman Schneider launching a range of personal attacks on my character, morals, ideas, and publications. Chairman Schneider read the text of something I had written six or seven or more years before, and told me that he disagreed with it and that I should not have written it. He also told me that I was wrong to have published the film blog material (the material Dean Tom Fiedler had already objected to and called offensive). He also delivered a speech attacking me personally for continuing to work at Boston University, posing, at one point, a cascade of deliberately insulting and demeaning rhetorical questions ranging from: “Why do you work here? Why do you stay? Why don’t you quit?”—to asking whether I was at BU “only for the money.” As the rhetorical questions clearly indicate, these were not statements about the performance of my duties or the adequacy of my teaching and mentoring, they were ad hominem attacks on my character and morals—and (most surprising to me of all) my money-grubbing. (Chairman Schneider brings in a substantial outside income as a producer, and based on these comments, I gather has a low opinion of academics like me who need their salaries to put food on the table.)
Forgive me for saying it, but I thought it was almost a Saturday Night Live sketch. The comedy was that the treatment I have described (including the accusation that I was “paranoid,” the blithe dismissal of acts of unprofessional conduct that I have provided detailed documentation of as being “ridiculous,” and the speech wondering why in the world I worked at BU, and speculating that I was here “only for the money”) was presented as an effort to assure me that the disrespect, name-calling, character-assassination, and prejudicial treatment I had experienced was a thing of the past! [And, I might add, that the disrespectful treatment I had described on numerous occasions had never occurred--even as it was continuing to take place in front of my eyes. Talk about someone being blind to his or her own tones, attitudes, words. I was being verbally abused and personally attacked in the interests of telling me that there had never been any verbal abuse or personal attacks. I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing out loud. ]