The one thing you’re supposed to do when bullying has occurred is to keep quiet – you don’t want to damage your reputation. The culture of secrecy is pervasive, and in my opinion, allows it to fester and continue.
But I’m speaking up. I’m going to be open and risk reputational damage to make sure others are not victimised. I spent almost two years being bullied by two criminology staff (who are the longest-serving and still work there) at the University of Northampton. My only recourse was to leave. Six staff have left criminology and criminal justice this year so far (none of whom were involved in the bullying). One clear proxy to monitor bullying behaviour is to look at staff turnover.
Let me be clear the remaining criminal justice staff are incredible. Many of them were able to act as witnesses for the bullying which assisted my formal complaints, I have nothing but absolute respect and gratitude that they spoke up.
These two bully’s behaviours were intentional, repeated and systematic. I know that their actions have nothing to fundamentally do with me, just as I found out their bullying had been going on for years before I started. Their bullying is supported by a management culture that decided to ignore the problem. I know that they are mediocre people who have failed to achieve their career goals, and they will continue to be bullies.
I am not going to contribute to the culture of silence, which can end careers and, in some cases, a person’s life. Bullying is serious. I and others placed formal complaints with HR, which were recognised and upheld for the most part after lengthy investigations. We raised complaints with the university’s management at both the faculty and executive level. We did everything you’re told to do to deal with the problem.
Why am I speaking up? Because I know it won’t end, the university placed an external advertisement, even after HR and university management received MANY detailed and scathing emails about the risk of hiring others without dealing with the root cause of the issues. It is likely more positions will be advertised soon, and these two bullies will turn their attention to new people and inflict damage upon them.
So, what does this come down to? My personal opinion DO NOT apply or accept a position in criminology at the University of Northampton. These two people are still employed, and management are still enabling their behaviour – by doing absolutely nothing.
As Tara Brabazon would say this was my comma, I was lucky I was in a position to quit and walk away, others won’t have that privilege.