Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Part 2—Public Humiliation and Shaming

Controlling Faculty Expression

Defeating Tenure

With Ceremonies of Public Disgrace and Embarrassment

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 second 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 2—Being Upbraided and Berated

In Hallways, Stairwells, and 

In Front of Students

On more than one occasion, the shouting, name-calling, abuse, and threats described on the preceding page has moved out of offices and meeting rooms and into public spaces.
As the mood struck them, both the College of Communication Dean and the Chairman of the Department of Film and Television and Film Studies Director have felt free to berate me, shout at me, or make smart sacastic remarks about me in a loud voice when I was standing in a public hallway, stairwell, or outside a classroomyelling at me at the top of their voices, criticizing my morals, character, and performance of my duties in front of undergraduate and graduate students, unconnected faculty members, staff members sitting in their offices, visiting parents, and complete strangers. (I document two examples on another page of the site. See “Public Shaming as an Administrative Technique.”)
For the record, I am not the only faculty member in my building who has been publicly abused this way. When I described my experiences, two other College of Communication faculty members told me they had been accorded similar public administrative upbraidings that went on for a briefer periods of time. Needless to say, these events are not inadvertent. They are deliberate. An administrator does not start yelling at a faculty member in a public place accidentally. He does it for a reason. He does what he does in front of outsiders and students to humiliate the faculty member and destroy his or her relationship with his or her students.
There have also been quieter, more insidious forms of intimidation and bullying in public places. Colleagues and administrators swear at me as they pass me in the hall or on the stairs. Others do an about-face when they see me approaching them and pointedly turn and walk in the other direction. Still others refuse to reply to questions I ask when we meet, or walk past me silently, refusing to meet my eyes or respond to a friendly greeting. 

* * *
Just as I have protested other acts of brutalization and bullying, I have protested these events to the perpetrators and the administrators over them—not only because they affect me but because in being conducted in front of students they erode the necessary trust and respect that must exist between a teacher and his or her students. The students suffer in this situation as much as the teacher being savaged in front of them, because they are being misled. They assume their teacher must deserve such treatment, that their teacher must be incompetent and irresponsible to be bringing such criticism down on his head. They can't imagine that it it all being done as theater by the administrator, deliberately to undermine the relationship of the teacher being reviled with his or her studentsor to destroy it altogether. Beyond that, the nastiness and ad hominem nature of these attacks is deeply destructive of the premise that an educational institution is organized in terms of civility, tolerance, and reason. This is not the way civilized, educated people interact with their bosses—by standing in a public place being yelled at and having their alleged deficiencies shouted to the rooftops (or up to the top of a stairwell from the ground floor in one case). Only at Boston University is this the way administrators treat faculty members.
Exactly as was the case when I protested the acts of brutalization and bullying that took place behind closed doors in meetings, the response of the administrators I sent the memos to has been either not to respond or to deny that anything at all ever took place. (Denial is only to be expected, I guess. The administrators who acted this way would presumably be fired or seriously reprimanded, if they admitted what they had done.) 

* * *
The effect of these public events on me has been as predicable as the effect of the screaming and name-calling sessions conducted behind closed doors. As much as possible I now enter and leave my office through a side entrance off at one end of the building to avoid having to pass through trafficked hallways, and have almost completely succeeded in re-routing my journeys to and from other offices or to and from my classroom to avoid having to pass by the offices of the Dean, the department Chairman, and the Film Studies Director—since all three locations have been the sites of their office holders’ darting out if they saw me walking past to begin shouting at and berating me in public. When I do have to walk the main halls, as is of course sometimes the case, I have learned to keep on the lookout for a side office to dart into, somewhere I can hide from public scrutiny, in order to be out of the sight and hearing of passing students if I am suddenly “cornered” by an administrator who wants to tell me what he thinks of me in front of students and strangers.

[Continued on the next page]