Saturday, January 19, 2013

Harassing Steve Keen.

My readers, I suppose, already know that the University of Western Sydney decided that his most prominent academic, Steve Keen and economics in general were not wanted anymore. This seems short-sighted, but that's their prerogative.

This is where the situation acquires a Kafkian dimension.

It turns out now that UWS referred Prof. Keen to the ICAC, the state's corruption watchdog. UWS alleges Prof. Keen engaged in "serious misconduct".

Wow. But, what is "serious misconduct"? Michael Janda (ABC News) reports:
"Examples of serious misconduct in the university's enterprise agreement include serious bullying or harassment, fraud, theft or assault".
Call me unimaginative, but I just can't picture Keen bullying, harassing or assaulting anybody. I only met him once, a few years go, for only a few hours. But that was enough to produce an overwhelming impression: Steve Keen is mild-mannered. Extremely so.

So, what did he do? Did he steal something or tried to make money illegitimately?

This is Janda reporting Keen's answer:
"SK: I told the students that I would not fail anyone given the circumstance that their subject was quite possibly being abolished and they were told about it two weeks before the exam for that subject would take place; and of course if they failed, there wouldn't necessarily be a subject there for them to repeat the following year and I certainly wouldn't be teaching it. So, in that situation I just couldn't see how I could fail anybody.
"MJ: Can you see why the university might be concerned about such a posting?
"SK: Yeah. I mean, certainly. I probably overstepped the mark and I should have said I'd take that into account rather than being as, you know, definite as I was".
So, no. There is neither theft, nor bullying, harassing, or assaulting.

Again, Janda reports what the UWS precisely accuses Keen of: "In a statement, UWS says it's obliged to take any allegation of soft marking seriously - so seriously that in this case it has also referred the matter to the Independent Commission Against Corruption".

So, no. There is no fraud, either. Steve Keen is not making any money out of that.

They accuse Steve Keen of being too lenient with his students...

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I am no lawyer and I might be mistaken, but I feel that if one wanted someone to accuse of serious misconduct, one could do better than looking at Steve Keen.

This is how TheFreeDictionary defines harassment:
harassment n. the act of systematic and/or continued unwanted and annoying actions of one party or a group, including threats and demands. The purposes may vary, including racial prejudice, personal malice, an attempt to force someone to quit a job or grant sexual favors, apply illegal pressure to collect a bill, or merely gain sadistic pleasure from making someone fearful or anxious. Such activities may be the basis for a lawsuit if due to discrimination based on race or sex, a violation on the statutory limitations on collection agencies, involve revenge by an ex-spouse, or be shown to be a form of blackmail ('I'll stop bothering you, if you'll go to bed with me'). The victim may file a petition for a 'stay away' (restraining) order, intended to prevent contact by the offensive party. A systematic pattern of harassment by an employee against another worker may subject the employer to a lawsuit for failure to protect the worker.
Maybe the UWS authorities should consult a lawyer. I hear that other universities have some good ones.

3 comments:

  1. Thorstein Veblen reportedly gave all of his students Cs regardless of their performance, unless they told him they needed a better great to keep their scholarship (in which case he'd give whatever grade the student needed). I'm not sure this was the best application of socialism or the best way to promote it, but certainly nobody at the time thought to call it "harassment"! That is some innovative use of the English language.

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  2. This is truly Kafkian. THanks for the update.

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  3. Maintaining a list of Toxic Textbooks and accusing the authors of being autistic is a type of harassment.

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