I last wrote a blog post in early August. At the time, I needed to take care of my mental and physical health. It was (and continues to be) extremely difficult to read and write about events that have left me seriously traumatized. As well, I did not want to be actively blogging while I was teaching UT Classics majors. I did not want this blog to be a distraction for them; or cause any of them to feel like they had to take sides in a dispute that has nothing to do with them.
I am on research leave this spring. I am working on two book projects as well as several smaller projects. I am very excited to have this time to read and write each day. But I also know that I need to continue to prep myself for trial in the first full week of May; and I want to tell my own story in the hope that others who find themselves in similar position — and I know that there are many others — might feel some solidarity and understand what does and does not work when dealing with workplace problems in higher education.
Just recently I was reminded that my institution has no neutral process available to faculty who might file a grievance. We have a grievance committee that can send a report to the dean — a process that assumes the dean is not involved in the complaint. We also have a Department of Investigation and Adjudication on campus (yes, seriously). Unfortunately, if the complaint might result in litigation or is related to ongoing litigation, it is sent over to UT Legal Affairs. It is unclear what happens from there. But, obviously, this is a process designed to protect the institution and, by extension, those in supervisory positions in the institution. For many years, I did not fully grasp the extent to which every process is meant to allow the institution to protect itself rather than get to the truth of things.
I want to emphasize that I am not writing these posts as a form of revenge. I am not a vengeful person nor would I put myself through the trauma of revisiting events that continue to affect my daily life in the form of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I am writing these posts for myself, so that I can fully understand what was actually happening behind the scenes. I am writing so that I can understand why I repeatedly tried to find a solution to an increasingly untenable situation. I am writing them to find some peace for myself.
I am also writing these posts for others who have found or will find themselves in my position. It is my hope that, unlike me, you will not stay quiet and hope that everything will somehow get resolved. You will not trust people in positions of power without verifying what they are telling you. My single biggest regret is not filing a lawsuit when I was being defamed by colleagues during and in the aftermath of my tenure case. I was told that of course nobody believed the vicious lies and that it wouldn’t matter.
In reality, it has mattered a lot. There are still many people at UT who know me as the faculty member who lied about a job offer. Everytime someone comes forward, I am disheartened. It is hard for me to accept that people would believe these things about me. It is hard to acknowledge that my reputation at UT has been permanently damaged by people who were supposed to support and nurture my career. This all happened because former Dean Randy Diehl did not want to admit that he had gone directly to USC when the accusations first emerged. Instead, he allowed this defamation to fester while assuring me that I had nothing to worry about. He was more interested in protecting himself than in ensuring that this defamation was stopped. It is my hope that others will be less naive, less trusting, less optimistic than I was.
I will continue to follow the chronology of events in an effort to help me and readers to make sense of the evidence as it stands, integrating new details that have emerged since I started blogging. I am deeply appreciative of all the support from not just the classics community but the academic community. Sadly, my experience is not as unique as I wish it were. Many people have contacted me with their own heartbreaking stories. The particular nature and structure of academia makes it extremely difficult to come forward with grievances. Institutions are set up to protect themselves and even abusers while doing nothing for victims.
In the meantime, I wish everyone well as we all navigate yet another semester of Covid era teaching, research, and living.