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  • Writer's pictureClara Wajngurt

Faculty Bullies Others - What Does the University Do?

I recently read an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education ( I Was Sick to my Stomache: A Scholar's Reputation for Bullying Goes Under the Microscope, June 21, 2019) that describes a vitriolic professor, Prof. Warren in the English department at Wayne State University who had a temper and was a poetry scholar. Physically, he was six feet tall and possessed an air of authority at meetings, classroom discussions, department meetings and personal interactions.Everyone knew about his temper but no one said anything. But 'in the face of institutional neglect and fear', Prof. Warren continued teaching.

But a group  of graduate students then got together and complained about Warren's behavior to administrators. Frustrated by the inability of the university to take action with regards to Warren's behavior, the students posted a blog that described years of allegations and testimonials against Warren. It described him as abusive and hostile to others in addition to being manipulative with female students. The University hired an external investigator to look into this situation. Students feared personal retaliation and isolation in academic circles. It was established that academic power structures prevent people from speaking out. Warren no longer teaches graduate students and his office has been relocated to outside the English department.

We need to strive to be 'Upstanders' in our work environment so we can  learn to speak up when we see harassment conditions.and bullying of others so that we can work in healthier climates.


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