Rampant Upsurge of Academic Bullying
It is said that the road to liberation lies in the ability to think and speak without the fear of risks.
In academia free thinking is power, Yet there is ignorance to inquiry.
How many times has it happened that you have spoken without being made fun of without being teased or made to feel guilty of knowing things and doing things?
How many times have the gossips made you feel humiliated, dejected and worthless?
How many times did you feel that your right to expression and to be yourself has been violated?
Academia at different stages has witnessed rejection of Rabble hypothesis, that assumes mankind as a horde of unorganized individuals driven by self interests.
Instead it is the informal Shadowed organization that have succumbed themselves to an oppressive behavioral pattern, calling for conformism, breach of which invites bullying, ragging and browbeating .
This jeopardises both the individuality while hampering education in bringing a revolution , by refusing critical thinking.
Only when an individual is not afraid to confront, to enter, to see, to hear, the reality of the world unfolds.
One needs to free oneself from the oppressive structures and resignations that leads to self depreciating beliefs. This in turn impedes one’s power to reflect and take action. Without this praxis, one cannot facilitate transformation, reforms and revolution.
Indeed every time an individual forbids another individual from engaging in the process of inquiry, irrespective of whatever means the oppressor uses, commits an act of violence. The oppressor alienates a person from making their own decisions reducing them to objects thereby committing an act of violence.
The perpetrators ruse of facades, pretense, and active manipulation renders one from thinking critically, failing the naive to question besides imprisoning their minds with the tormentors notions. In academia, bullying one for knowing things, for speaking up for what they feel is right, for taking a stand, for answering the questions takes a high toll in this competitive world. The decision to go beyond the conformist subculture created in workplace lead to workplace bullying.
Workplace bullying that includes teasing, calling names, intimidation, harassments, overwork, isolations, gaslighting, withholding information, preventing one from harnessing opportunities, accusations , professional humiliation, belittlement, embarrassment, undermining one’s authority etc have seen an exponential increase.
This in turn hampers the victims progress, questions their worth and might trigger them to post traumatic stress disorder. The competitive environment, limited resources, hierarchical nature, jealousy, lack of institutional protection of the victim and lack of accountability besides the victim’s fear and victim blaming has paved an unpunished and fearless pathway for the perpetrators to continue their act of violence . This creates an environment of injustice and prevents good people to do nothing, besides ruining people’s career and life.
How far should one provide the oppressive elites this luxury of bullying and allowing assaults to one’s intellect? How far should one tolerate being silent ? At what point should one retaliate for made silenced? How far should one tolerate the toxicity? In what ways can these chains of bullying be broken and people stop from within and not just from without?
Every individual must know it is their right to self defense. Every child irrespective of their financial and social status in society is a legal responsibility to the institution they are a part. It is the duty of the institution to provide security of the ward. If by any chance the victim is punished as they decide to fight back and let the perpetrators roam free, surely this would prevent the others from speaking up or fighting for their rights, for justice.
The very instance that the institution intimidates the victims and threatens them that, “ If you lodge a complaint, it is you who shall face the consequences and must not expect any help from the institution, high chances that your stay here shall be made difficult”. This reflects the gravity with which bullying is dealt.
Just like assaults against women go unreported for the fear of not being taken seriously or embarrassment or further harassment threats by the perpetrator, encouraging perpetrators to continue their acts and feel rather okay doing it. This should not be tolerated specially in academia which is the base for developing morals and ethics.
Indeed the need is to develop an affirming environment where individuality is upheld, where even a mini dose of bullying doesn’t go unpunished. An accountable and responsible institutional support is provided. No forms of bullying should be ignored. Simply establishing an investigation agency or strict rules on paper doesn’t work, punitive punishments while might serve to be an example or might pause bullying for a while, it is not effective in the long run.
Instead the culture of redemption must be embraced where restorative methods are used. A supportive environment must be encouraged for the victim. The allies for the victim must be identified. Provisions for anonymous complaints must also be encouraged along with empowering and protecting the bystanders to provide testimony to these acts. People should feel empowered to speak up as witnesses and take a stand against this.
The victims must not be scared to ask for justice simply on the grounds that they lack witnesses.
As bullying is not taken seriously we need to replace them with cute euphemisms like harassments, abuse, assaults, targeted discrimination, hate speech, slander, manslaughter, stalking, character assassination. May be then it might be taken seriously.
Every person needs to know that self defense is their legal right and the institution is responsible to fight against the bullies. It is not the victims who must be coerced to remain silent but it must be the perpetrators whose acts must be silenced. Only then a revolution in academic bullying shall take place.
[Rudrani Garg, a student of Political Science of The Assam Royal Global University, rudranigarg222@asarmaagmail-comMahabahu.com is an Online Magazine with collection of premium Assamese and English articles and posts with cultural base and modern thinking. You can send your articles to firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com ( For Assamese article, Unicode font is necessary)