Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Part 1—Bullied, Harassed, Threatened, Terrorized

Controlling Faculty Expression

And Defeating Tenure

With Bullying, Threats, and Intimidation

Boston University has a long and inglorious history, beginning in the 1970s and extending into the present, of finding ways to control its faculty members’ expressions and of defeating and legally getting around the supposed protections of the tenure system in particular. I have received a surprising number of inquiries from faculty members and administrators at other universities who read the blog regularly and want to know more about the treatment I have received in response to the reports of ethical misconduct and professional misbehavior I have filed and the attempts of Boston University administrators to ostracize, marginalize, and remove me from the decision-making process in the university. This is the first part of a seven-part posting touching on some of the ways I have, as I note in a previous posting, been “bullied, beat-up, and bludgeoned administratively,” “turned into a persona non grata,” and “effectively expunged, banned, and prevented from doing anything but teaching my courses” in my College. Due to lack of space and the number of years these events have taken place, the individual postings will be of a summary nature. Details are provided on earlier blog pages. —Ray Carney

Part 1—Being Bullied, Harassed, Terrorized, 

Threatened, Hounded, Driven Away from Meetings 

One of the most frequent responses to my ethical and procedural whistleblowing (if one wants to call it that) has been to subject me to a variety of forms of bullying, harassment, personal abuse, and verbal and emotional savagery in meetings at all levels in the Boston University College of Communication—in meetings chaired by two different Deans, Department meetings chaired by the Chairman of the Department of Film and Television, and Film Studies program meetings chaired by the Director of Film Studies. Both in private behind closed doors and in group settings in front of other administrators, junior faculty members, and university staff, I have repeatedly been shouted down, sworn at, called offensive names, told I am mentally ill, told that I am a pathological liar, told to “shut up,” mocked and ridiculed, asked if am only working at BU “for the money,” and, in general, had my morals and character dragged through the mud over and over again, in meeting after meeting, alone and in front of groups of others, over a period of many years. (An earlier blog page, How (Not) to Conduct a Meeting—Shouts, Name-Calling, Personal Attacks, Threats, Punishments,” reprints sympathy notes I received from faculty members who found themselves in the uncomfortable position of witnessing some of the screaming-sessions I was subjected to.) 

In addition to the emotional terrorism and psychological savagery, I have also been subjected to a series of outright threats directly linked to my reports of pedagogical problems, ethical issues, and professional misconduct. I have received threats by Boston University administrators (some in writing) that if I don’t withdraw my reports and retract my statements, my professional reputation will be destroyed with an internet posting against me on the official university site, that they will “unleash the [Boston University] lawyers” to engage in murder-by-litigation actions designed to bankrupt me, or that an administrator will dig up “dirt” from my past to destroy my reputation and create a factitious justification for firing me.

In the category of psychological warfare, two different Deans in my College have ominously and repeatedly referred to my status when they talked to me in terms of “whether” I would be “allowed” to continue to teach or remain in my position, with the use of phrases like “If we let you teach next semester” or “if you are here next year”—even though my performance of my duties had been impeccable and in the meetings in which these and similar phrases were employed neither Dean was able to cite a single thing I had actually done wrong.
* * *
The obvious goal of the abuse—whether it takes the form of yelling at and thuggishly threating to destroy me professionally or financially, or more subtle insinuations like the kind in the preceding paragraph—has been to make my professional life so painful that I would resign my position. If I couldn’t be fired because I had tenure, I could be forced out by the verbal abuse, the insinuations, the threats. And though I didn't quit, I am sorry to say that my Chairmen, my Deans, my Film Studies Director succeededemotionally. Meetings with these administrators (and with colleagues who, egged on and encouraged by them, screamed at me, called me names, and told me I was mentally ill) became events I cringed in terror at having to attend. I lived in fear of the ferocity, the personal nature, and the publicity of the abuse, which seemingly could erupt at any time, even immediately after I made special, personal pleas for tolerance and civility (as I did more than once—see the account in the final paragraph on this page of a meeting with my Dean and Chairman where I had no sooner made such a plea than I was stunningly subjected to more abuse for having made the request!). I lived in constant fear of saying something that would prompt the next gratutiously withering outburst of screaming, invective, and personal attack. I lived in fear of the consequences of the next administrative threat or sneaky, underhanded legal effort to "dig up dirt" about me, to concoct a reason to fire me.

* * *

Month after month, in memo after memo and meeting after meeting, I protested the unfairness, the unprofessionalism, the unethical nature of the abuse, the threats, and the insinuations. I wrote memos objecting to the bullying treatment I was receiving. I made repeated appeals, in writing and in person, to each of the administrators involved as well as to administrators and staff members above them (the Associate Provost, the Provost, the President, and the university Ombuds) for fair and compassionate treatment. My pleas were not only ignored, but held against me, preposterously cited as evidence that I was a “troublemaker” and not a “team player.” The more I objected, the more my evaluations and pay were negatively affected. My appeals that the abuse stop only became the excuse for more abuse. I was told over and over again that I was making it all up, that I was a liar, and that nothing I described had ever happened (despite the events being witnessed by a dozen other faculty members). Welcome to Boston University, the land where administrators make the rules (and change them as they go). The faculty, like the janitors, just do their bidding.

     To read a detailed account of a specific meeting where I protested the previous six or eight years of abuse, name-calling, and attacks on my character and morals in department meetings to my Chairman, the Dean of the College of Communication, the Associate Dean, and a university lawyeronly, to my complete shock, astonishment, and (yes, I have to be honest) amusement, to be heaped with yet more abuse, called more names, and have my character and morals publicly attacked one more time by my Chairman for having raised the issue, even as (get thisit was the ultimate irony) he vehemently denied any such abuse, name-calling, or attacks had ever taken place, see my account of a meeting chaired by my Dean in December 2012: “Negotiating with Boston University, Part 2.")

[Continued on the next page]