Let me start our by saying, I work at a really great institution. I really do. Do I agree with everything they do? Big negative. But I love the campus, I love the department I work in. I love the buzz of the campus. I love working where people are excited about their education (for the most part).
For the last couple of weeks, we’ve had some not so great publicity regarding the firing of three people who had worked in the University Relations department on campus. If you haven’t heard about it yet, you pretty much just have to google UNCG firings and it’ll come up. It’s definitely not the best press we have ever gotten if you read it.
It brought to light some not so great things about our university, has seriously divided our university and has created tension on campus. You can feel the tension walking around campus (well among the faculty and staff– some students care but whether they are in the majority has still yet to be seen). People’s main topics of conversation is how the university has handled this matter.
Most people (myself included) think that this was taken too far. I can understand firing someone (although I wouldn’t have fired them personally. I would have warned them and reiterated the rules (if I could find the rules, but that’s neither here nor there)), but completely ruining their lives by pressing FELONY charges when they’ve given the university so much or their lives, time and talents is ridiculous. Should they have used university equipment to further there business? Absolutely not. But you have to take it in context. These people were photographers. I about guarantee you they have used their personal equipment on the job due to budget constraints and all the rest. Who’s to say it wasn’t an even trade off. As for the falsification of time sheets, how do they know? The way our time sheets are set up (they were salaried employees like I am) we just put the total numbers of hours we worked for the day. Who’s to say they didn’t take off time in the middle of the day to work on their side job and just stay longer that day? I don’t see a problem with using your computer. It would be the same thing as running over to the library or computer lab to do it, so the machines are getting the same use regardless. Technically, they shouldn’t have used their machines to edit their photographs but should they have FELONY charges brought against them? If they knew they were doing their work on company time, that’s a bigger problem in my opinion. How does the university know? The only way they could know is by looking at their movements (times they came in/out) which I think is what is making people paranoid (points to herself). Let’s face it, no one likes to think their every move is being video taped or recorded. That’s probably exactly what happened. The only way they knew if these people falsified their timesheet would be by checking the times they drove in and out of the parking deck or looking at the cameras. That’s just not cool.
The biggest problem I have with this situation (not that UNCG cares mind you) is how all this came about. The chancellor keeps distancing herself and the campus from this situation saying that UNCG wasn’t the ones that brought the charges against these people. Umm… we aren’t stupid. Someone had to alert the UNCG police to the situation. Someone had to ask for an audit. The problem with that is it was the vice chancellor of the department. The man had complaints against him by some of these people. This man has fired 7 people just since he started his job in April (one of them just the day after he started–how to you fire someone the next day?). This man was out to get something against these people so he could legitimately fire them. Sounds like someone was letting power go to his head and was abusing his position. I desperately think something needs to be done about his man. To have that many complaints against him and still be in his position is simply appalling to me. Checkout his Linkedin profile. He’s never had a job longer than 5 years (he averaged 2 years in each job). That’s not a great thing. He’s never had a background in an educational setting. That’s not a great thing. Why is he not getting checked out by the university. Why is this bullying of the people he is supervising being accepted? People are afraid and don’t want to come to work because of this guy. THAT’S NOT ACCEPTABLE. People should be able to work in a conflict free zone. People should be able to concentrate on what they are doing an not have to watch their back to see if they are the one going to be fired today. Who’s his supervisor? The chancellor. When things larger than this come about (such as the major budget cuts from the legislature–Get it together NC), the chancellor is going to be more concerned with managing the university and trying to retain students than worry about a personnel matter that’s bleak, unfortunately for faculty/staff.
Needless to say, morale is indeed down. It’s sad that this is on the front page of the paper when a huge grant that the education department got made page 8.
That being said, I think we will bounce back from this. Get rid of the bully and drop the felony charges against these people and maybe the university can save face.