Newcastle Herald

Campus bullying claims

Author: By ALISON BRANLEY Education Reporter
Date: 01/12/2010
Words: 339
Source: NCH
          Publication: Newcastle Herald
Section: News
Page: 25
The University of Newcastle is facing more bullying claims, with one lobby group estimating it has cost the institution more than $1.4 million.

The founders of an anonymous website, Stop Bullying at University of Newcastle, published the estimate while releasing details of its own survey about campus bullying.

The university has reiterated that it does not tolerate bullying and urged anyone with concerns to come forward.

The website, being promoted in emails circulated on campus, said interim results of its survey of 25 people so far showed most bullying was sparked when the victim disagreed with a superior.

The bullying was said to manifest itself in unfair treatment, being ignored, humiliated or losing responsibilities and to a lesser extent, rumours and insults.

Forty per cent of respondents had observed bullying of other staff. The website has had more than 2000 hits since it went live in September.

One comment on the site included: "It is too easy for a staff member to plagiarise a postgraduate student's work and get away with it."

A casual staff member who contacted the Newcastle Herald, but did not want to be named, said they recently watched another casual be dismissed for uncovering student plagiarism and preventing a cover-up.

"I have also witnessed, in general, a lack of professionalism within the university that I can only describe as astonishing," they said.

When the university was asked if it had a problem with bullying, and if it would consider an external complaints system, it said its previous responses to the issue continued to stand.

A spokeswoman told the Newcastle Herald in October there had been four complaints of bullying this year; three were dismissed and the other withdrawn.

It followed complaints against six staff in 2009 that were upheld, of 57 lodged.

She said the university had a clear code of conduct outlining how staff and students should behave towards each other.

"There is a well-publicised complaints management system in place," she said.

"If any staff or students have concerns regarding bullying, the university strongly urges them to come forward."

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