Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Current Events—Part 5

Introduction to Organizational Behavior 101
“They called me names, attacked my morals, and told me I was mentally ill. Why? For objecting to the fact that they had called me names, attacked my morals, and told me I was mentally ill in previous meetings. According to them, it had never happened! It could never happen. They said they would never do that! They told me I was a liar and said I was mentally ill to have accused them of treating me nastily or of calling me names. They were acting so abusively to deny their abusiveness, so unprofessionally to insist that they had never been unprofessional, that it was all I could do to stop myself from laughing out loud. I was in a Saturday Night Live sketch about crazy bosses crazily denying they were crazy bosses.” —Ray Carney
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“One must lie low and remain silent, no matter how much it goes against one's nature, and must try to understand that the entire great organization is in a state of ever-so-delicate, ever-so-precarious balance, which means that if someone takes it upon himself to alter the disposition of things around him, he courts every danger and runs every risk, including the risk of losing his footing and falling to destruction, while the organization will simply right itself by a compensating reaction in another part of its machinery, since everything is, after all, interlocked, and will strive to remain unchangedunless, indeed, which is very probable, it becomes even more rigid, more vigilant, more severe, and more pitiless and punitive in response to his pleas for improvement.” —Franz Kafka, The Trial

The paragraphs that follow continue Ray Carney’s listing of his academic accomplishments and the punitive and retaliatory actions taken against him for speaking out about ethical problems and professional misconduct he has observed at Boston University in the past year. The text is taken from his recently completed and filed “Faculty Annual Report.” It is recommended that you begin reading with “Current Events—Part 1," “Current Events—Part 2,” Current Events—Part 3," and "Current Events—Part 4," posted on earlier blog pages. —Ray Carney

During the reporting period (and for a six month period prior to it), one or more faculty members in my department contacted present and former students of mine asking them to make internet postings criticizing me and telling them what kinds of negative things to post. (Can you believe the shamelessness of this?)

This preceding action continues a long-standing tradition of uncollegiality in the Department of Film and Television, where specific faculty members (whose names I have provided to the administration, without any action being taken), and the Film Studies Director acting in his official capacity as a student adviser, have told students not to take courses with me and to write negative things to administrators about me, with the faculty member in question “ghost writing” or dictating the contents of the “letter of complaint,” which the student has been instructed to sign and submit as if it were done on his or her own initiative (concealing the involvement of the faculty member in creating the whole event). 

In a well-documented series of meetings extending over many years, the Film Studies Director has told graduate students that he will refuse to work with them if they choose me as their thesis director, has explicitly tried to talk them out of taking courses with me, and has attacked the value of my research and publications to them. (This last accusation is all the more ironic, almost to the point of comedy, coming from someone who himself has done little or no original and important research, and who administers a Film Studies program where virtually none of the professors other than myself have published any important or original critical work, a program where many of the Film Studies professors who teach graduate students do not even hold the Ph.D. degree.)

Character assassination by stealth. The use of proxies by administrators to attack faculty members in public. During the reporting period, faculty members in my department were deputed by Boston University administrators to make negative statements about me to a reporter at the Boston Globe (and in additional places, for all I know). They gladly carried out their duties.

In January 2013, I submitted a memo to the Dean of the College of Communication, the Chairman of the Department of Film and Television, and the Boston University Provost protesting verbal abuse by my department Chairman and other Boston University administrators and staff members at a meeting that had taken place a month before. [For the record, the abuse I was subjected to included being ridiculed more than once by a member of the BU legal staff, who sanctioned the administrative bad behavior not only by being present throughout it, by witnessing it, and by not saying a single word to stop it or indicate its inappropriateness--but by actively participating in the name-calling and egregiously disrespectful treatment. See pages 2 and 6 of this multi-part "Current Events" posting for more about unethical activity by members of that particular university office.] I had been called names; my character, morals, and mental competence had been attacked. These deeply offensive and unprofessional acts had taken place in the presence of the Dean of the College of Communication, the Assistant Dean, my department Chairman, and a university lawyer—and were participated in or witnessed by each of the named individuals. (Yes, BU is that messed-up; even members of the legal department are involved in acts of name-calling and verbal abuse, or sit silently by while administrators behave this way.) Par for the course, no response to my memo objecting to the unprofessionalism of their treatment of me was received from a single BU administrator to whom I sent the 2013 memo objecting to it, including the University Provost who, on the basis on her non-response, can be presumed to endorse the unprofessional behavior of those under her. At least she can't say she wasn't told what went on. But she couldn't trouble herself to write a single sentence in response to my report. Welcome to Boston University, where the disrespect for faculty, and the indifference to ethical violations extends right to the administrative tippy-top.

[For information about other sessions of verbal abuse and attacks on my character and morals that I have been subjected to by my Chairman or Dean, usually in front of groups of junior faculty or College of Communication students--there have been too many to count them all--see three other blog pages: "Censorship, Punishment, Abuse, Threats: Being Banned in Boston," "How (Not) to Conduct a Meeting: Shouts, Name-Calling, Personal Attacks, Threats, Punishments," and "Public Shaming as an Administrative Technique," all three available under March 2013 in the side menu of this page. For the record, all of these events (and many others) were also reported to senior Boston University administrators, including the University Provost, and all of them received the same non-response, non-investigation, non-correction as the events reported in the preceding paragraph. The situation has gone on for six or seven (or more) years by this point. And not one administrator has been willing even to look into it. I can say that as a fact, because not a single administrator has ever asked me to give them more information about what went on. My reports have all been ignored--when my Chairman or Dean have not told me that my evaluations and pay were being docked for having filed them--since (in the words of my Chairman) I am not being a "team-player" by writing them, and (in the words of my Dean) I am "making trouble" by filing reports about what has happened.]

To add a comical note to the preceding events: As I noted in my memo, the reason I was called names and verbally abused at the earlier meeting was in response to my descriptions of previous instances of being yelled at and called names in other meetings. The administrators at the most recent meeting verbally abused me, called me names, and attacked my morals in the course of arguing that no abuse and name-calling could ever taken place! It was all I could do to avoid laughing out loud. It felt like I was in a Saturday Night Live sketch. Or, less hilariously, like I had been transformed into Josef K. in Franz Kafka's The Trial.

"But wait, there’s more" category—more meetings, more events, more abuse: During the reporting period, I was also called names and had my character and personality attacked in front of junior colleagues by the Film Studies Program Director. Though I protested this treatment as well, neither an apology nor a promise of future amendment was offered. Instead, the events were denied (though they had been witnessed by numerous junior faculty members, some of whom wrote me emails sympathizing with my situation) just as they had been at the meeting chaired by my Dean. There’s a pattern here. Can BU administrators see it without calling me names for pointing it out?

The text of Ray Carney’s most recent “Faculty Annual Report” (submitted in the spring of 2014) continues on the next blog page. See “Current Events—Part 6."