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Author Topic: Overruled by Admin  (Read 5164 times)
cj405
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« Reply #15 on: April 26, 2012, 11:12:55 AM »

The idea that administrators are scared silly about lawsuits (especially groundless ones, like this one), at least in my experience, is a bit overblown.

My admin apparently went through an ugly lawsuit at a prior university and is scarred silly of lawsuits.  The more groundless the lawsuit would be, the more terrifying it seems to be.

It has gotten to the point where I have thought of suggesting that we meet with the university lawyer because potential lawsuits are brought up in every single staff meeting.
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"These things sneak up on him for no reason, these flashes of irrational happiness.  It's probably a vitamin deficiency." -Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake
qrypt
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I just LOVE that VOICE. It's so NICE


« Reply #16 on: April 26, 2012, 11:53:09 AM »

In my first job as a VAP, I gave failing (below C) grades to three seniors on their senior theses; in two cases this was for plagiarism.  I was summoned to the president's office to do some 'splainin'.  Fortunately I had the full backing of my head of department, who accompanied me (it helped that he had a deeply rooted loathing for the president). 

My grades were not overturned.  However a high-level committee of some sort subsequently waived the relevant graduation requirements for these students.  Their transcripts contained evidence that not all was right with their experiences, but they got their degrees (having threatened lawyers, etc.).  This was at a top-10 SLAC. 
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"Kick ass! If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! Our will is being tested, but we are resolute. We have a better way. Stay strong! Stay the course! Kill them! Be confident! We are going to wipe them out! We are not blinking!"
seeweed
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« Reply #17 on: April 26, 2012, 5:21:32 PM »

I'm quite surprised at how many others have had similar experiences. It's disheartening, although it is always nice to hear about supportive chairs & deans.

The lawsuit part of my story is completely hearsay. That bit of information was passed along by friends I have who work there full-time and are privy to that information. I actually have no idea what prompted the High Priest/ess to bend over backwards for this student, all I know is that this person did so. Yuck.

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anakin
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Goes to 11


« Reply #18 on: April 26, 2012, 8:55:50 PM »

seeweed, you need to be thinking CYA at this point. Save everything. Make a cloud backup or CD/DVD backup of all email messages (as plain-text, not application-specific files), documents, everything. Chances are you will never need it. If you do, you must be able to demonstrate that you followed your institution's faculty handbook, code of conduct, etc.

If the High Priest/ess or anyone else makes any requests about this or any future situation where the ethics furrow your brow, get the request in writing. I got the same advice a couple of years ago about a similar situation and it was brilliant advice. "Recapping our conversation today about X, I'd like to make sure I understand what you're requesting. May I get that in writing, just so I'm clear?"

You - we - may be able to do nothing to prevent someone else's breach of ethics, and we may be unable to prevent all sorts of injustices from annoying to egregious - but we can do our best to make sure we don't get sucked down the vortex with everyone else.
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amlithist
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« Reply #19 on: April 27, 2012, 10:56:30 AM »

OP, is there a union at your school.  Even though you're an adjunct, and even though this seems to have reached some immediate level of resolution for you, you union needs to be aware.  (The union here is only for FT, but we do act on adjuncts' complaints; the only difference is, if it comes to that, the adjunct has to get his/her own lawyer, while FT members can use the union lawyers.)
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frogfactory
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« Reply #20 on: April 27, 2012, 9:26:12 PM »

This is all awful, but I'm sort of intrigued.  How exactly would a lawsuit on this go? It seems highly unlikely any court would decide in favour of a plagiarising student.
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At the end of the day, sometimes you just have to masturbate in the bathroom.
seeweed
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« Reply #21 on: April 29, 2012, 2:07:05 PM »

It is intriguing, in a soap opera-esque way, isn't it? I have absolutely no idea how the student could justify a lawsuit, and no one mentioned the specifics of the lawsuit threat. I wonder if it goes beyond my class, because surely the admin would not react so quickly to a completely nonviable threat like suing over a twice-plagiarized paper.

Unfortunately we do not have a faculty union, although I agree that it would be worth mentioning if we did.

Anakin, thank you for the "get it in writing" advice. I agree - brilliant. And your phrasing is perfect. I will definitely be hanging on to that tidbit for future reference.
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funkypeanut
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« Reply #22 on: April 29, 2012, 11:35:33 PM »

At one institution where I used to teach, a student who cheated sued the university because, she claimed, the TA violated her civil rights by checking to see whether she was cheating. It didn't fly.
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usukprof
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« Reply #23 on: April 30, 2012, 11:03:32 AM »

It is intriguing, in a soap opera-esque way, isn't it? I have absolutely no idea how the student could justify a lawsuit, and no one mentioned the specifics of the lawsuit threat. I wonder if it goes beyond my class, because surely the admin would not react so quickly to a completely nonviable threat like suing over a twice-plagiarized paper.

I don't think lawsuits need to be justified (IINAL); there are people the will sue over the drop of a hat, which is why so many frivolous suits are immediately dropped by the judge.
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zharkov
or, the modern Prometheus.
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« Reply #24 on: April 30, 2012, 11:21:41 AM »

It is intriguing, in a soap opera-esque way, isn't it? I have absolutely no idea how the student could justify a lawsuit, and no one mentioned the specifics of the lawsuit threat. I wonder if it goes beyond my class, because surely the admin would not react so quickly to a completely nonviable threat like suing over a twice-plagiarized paper.

I don't think lawsuits need to be justified (IINAL); there are people the will sue over the drop of a hat, which is why so many frivolous suits are immediately dropped by the judge.

Chime.   There are also enough lawyers who will take on frivolous suits, and many people who are petrified by the idea of getting sued.   Thus even frivolous suits have a certain potential power, funny as it seems.
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__________
Zharkov's Razor:
Adapting Zharkov a bit to this situation, ignorance and confusion can explain a lot.
mickeymantle
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« Reply #25 on: April 30, 2012, 11:46:38 AM »


Chime redux.  Administrators are scared to death of lawsuits, not for unreasonable reasons, and will do almost(?) anything to avoid one.  I know of such situations.
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