From Chapter 4
If accusations are not true, a person is in a situation similar to being bullied, [and] the psychological devastation can be ruinous. If you are not believed, if you cannot fight back with the true story, if now you are distrusted and under scrutiny, the sense of helplessness is overwhelming.
Dr. Carrie Barron, Psychology Today
I have no doubt that my situation was a clear case of bullying that resulted in feelings of helplessness on my part. The efforts to silence me with a sealed environment seemed at times overwhelming. There was no opportunity for me to defend myself against the charges leveled against me. I was slandered, silenced and sidelined.
A year earlier a colleague had been charged with plagiarism by a scholar from another institution. The incident occurred before the new three-man administration had taken over. An outside committee was immediately formed to review the case, and my colleague was given an opportunity to submit evidence, as was the scholar who made the charge.
As it turned out, this scholar had accused my colleague of stealing his interpretation of a biblical passage while the two of them were in conversation at a professional conference. Both were in the late stages of writing books, and when this scholar read the published volume my colleague had written, he cried foul. Whether or not conversation can be plagiarized did not actually become an issue because my colleague was able to prove with his own class notes as well as student notes that he had been teaching this new interpretation well before the conversation at the conference. The situation was handled professionally. My colleague was vindicated.
Indeed, plagiarism is a far more serious charge than low student or faculty evaluations. In the above case the male professor was treated fairly. As a woman I was discriminated against. I was summarily given a terminal appointment and removed from tenure track. I had no opportunity to have my situation judged fairly.
There was another incident of plagiarism at the seminary. A doctoral student was charged with plagiarizing the work of another student who had submitted his dissertation several years earlier. As a member of the disciplinary committee, I was directly involved. Initially this international student had claimed he did not understand American writing rules. But by the time he had appealed to our committee, his story had expanded. He told how he was typing his thesis on a hot day when a strong breeze blew through an open window. His own typed papers as well as those pages belonging to the other student got mixed up. Thus, he had inadvertently submitted large segments of the other student’s work.
I think of that situation when I contemplate Henry’s dishonest summation of my students’ and colleagues’ evaluations. He might have blamed a great wind that mixed up my evaluations with those of other professors. Had he been a student, however, his story would not have stood up to scrutiny. The student who appealed to the disciplinary committee was not allowed to graduate—a severe punishment. Henry carried on with no penalty whatsoever.