This week, I read an article about a disturbing situation in the world of academia: cyberbullying or the use of electronic technology to post comments, pictures, videos, and rumors on social media sites.
The article describes a case of academic cyberbullying. A program director of an online program was threatened with violence – she was threatened with rape.
Adults who bully others to get what they want have the potential for violence. Some students talk or act violently if they don’t get the grade they think they deserve. Are grades really that important?
Threats From a Stranger
The blog explained that the program director and professor is in charge of online programs. She is the point person for academic decisions (grades, late assignments, transfers).
She never met the student who left an “anonymous phone call describing in explicit and vulgar detail exactly how and where the man on the phone would rape me.”
These kinds of threats are about power, to make the victim feel powerless. Threats against instructors are not anything new – students want better grades, ask for more time to finish their assignments, or some just want to take the exam over.
Students With Problems
As the program director, she helps students who have problems. She has control over academic requests. She is the one who says no to many requests.
Now she is a victim of cyberbullying, Many sites allow students to post anonymous comments and feedback about professors.
Cyberbullying happens against children and can push them into committing suicide. In a recent case, a teen was sentenced for sending text messages that encouraged her boyfriend to commit suicide.
I wonder why some students think they can bully their way through life to get what they want. But the problem with cyberbullying is that people hide behind anonymity to make comments about professors.
The Rate My Professors site is one example. Harsh criticisms and misogynist profanity against women professors is very common. It’s not hard to make the leap from mean-spirited messages to threatening phone calls to physical violence.
Safety and Accountability
The workplace should be a safe place for anyone. Academia is no exception – with gender bias in higher education, more women professors are at risk for harm. The potential for physical assault is a reality for women.
Academia needs to protect women in the workplace. Even online teaching is a problem when students can threaten professors anonymously. There needs to be more accountability to protect employees.
A new attitude in academia can level the playing field – women should not be seen as sexual objects in their work place.
Behaviors, language, and cultures in higher education need to change. Women work hard and deserve to be respected in academia, not objectified.
Cyber Bullies kill peoples’ souls.