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I am working as a lecturer at a university. My students hate math and stats. Due to that, they hate my class. There is a group of students who are always shouting, yelling, and showing disrespectful behavior. This includes:

  1. Dr., I will not let you give us the lesson, till you show us our marks (yelling).
  2. Who are you to give us these regulations (yelling)?
  3. Waving their hand, showing disrespectful emotional language.
  4. Sending shouting, disrespectful, and bad behavior emails.

I took my evidence and showed them to my boss. No actions were taken against the students (the students still show disrespectful behavior). I spoke to the dean, but she was very biased against me. She said that these students are still young. Also, these students are very rich and used to have home services at their home, so they look at you like this. I was so angry and told that this is not acceptable at all. later, my boss' secretary, send me an email:

Tomorrow you will have a meeting with Dr. X and Dr. Y at "time".

End of the email. I had no idea about that meeting and was not asked if this time was suitable for me or not. Last semester, Dr. X told me, while shouting and pointing her finger at my face, "You are zero and will be zero forever, in my eyes". Also, "You are bad raising women". No action was taken from my dean or head of the college.

I went to the meeting, their emotion was so bad. Sometimes, they used signal emotion with me. Which is disrespectful behavior.

At the meeting, without listening to me, or even showing me anything, the dean said: "I have a verbal warning for you".

I was so much shocked and asked why. She responded to me that, "Some students complain about your communication with them".

I said, could you please show me their complaints? Did you ask me, whether this is true or not? Did you investigate the cases? You present the verbal warning and want me to sign it for no evidence. Then, I said, how about my complaints against these students with my clear evidence?

She said, in response to me, hold on, do not shout. I was not shouting at all. I felt unfair behavior from them. Then, I said if you will keep going with this, then I need to show this to the court as this is not the first time. She then said I will remove this verbal warning at all.

Now, I would like to write a minute for our meeting and send it back to them. My questions are:

  1. Can the dean or the head, show, or process a warning report to any employee without evidence?
  2. How can we describe their behavior against me?
  3. Is it a good idea to write a minute?
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    You don't give any indication as to where you are in the world, but if this is a place where unions are common, these are questions you should direct to your union. – nabla Oct 30 '20 at 13:59
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    Find the exit. There isn't likely a future for you in this place. – Buffy Oct 30 '20 at 14:52
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    @DaveLRenfro My reading would be even worse, more akin to "OP (presumably a woman, based on username) is a woman who does not know her place". – xLeitix Oct 30 '20 at 15:50
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    Besides being disrespectful, the students risk tougher questions on the next exam. Hint. – Mattman944 Oct 30 '20 at 16:06
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    Writing a minute is definitely a good idea, but in the face of behaviour this extreme from management, rather than sending the minute to Dr. X and Dr. Y, I'd be inclined to take it along to an initial consultation with a qualified lawyer, if such a thing is affordable in your area. In particular, before "finding the exit", it would be as well to know whether your jurisdiction recognises the concept of "constructive unfair dismissal". – Daniel Hatton Oct 30 '20 at 16:15
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Your question does not specify where in the world you are, but the behaviour you are describing from the students and staff sounds extreme. It also sounds like your boss perceives you to be the cause of the problem and it sounds like they are not treating you well. In such a case, your future at this institution might not be a good one, and it might be a good idea to consider looking for a position elsewhere. Before you get to that point, I will make a couple of suggestions for what you might do here.

As a starting point, it might be useful to invite another academic to attend your lectures to observe what is going on. Choose someone you respect as a good lecturer who has a good relationship with you, and ask them if they wouldn't mind coming along to a few of your lectures to observe. This would have three purposes: (1) to see if you are doing anything wrong that would provoke such extreme behaviour; (2) in the event that you are not doing anything wrong, to act as a witness of what is occurring from the students; and (3) to give you advice on how you can improve your class (either by improving your own methods, or improving student discipline, or both). The presence of another lecturer might alter the behaviour being observed, which is unfortunate, but even in that case the observer will be able to give you feedback on what you are doing.

Once you have had another lecturer observe your class you will be in a better position to determine whether you are contributing to the problems from your students, or whether these are just unruly students who are behaving badly without provocation. You might also be in a better position to engage with your boss in relation to the problem. (For example, you might now have another lecturer who can come along to meetings and give their observations of your class.) Depending on what country you are in, there may be some rules for unfair disciplinary action or unfair dismissal.

Your proposal to write a minute and send it back to your boss might be okay, but only if the minute is written in an objective manner. If the minute is just your characterisation of the way you were treated then it is unlikely that your boss will consider it an accurate statement of the meeting, and it might just further inflame the situation.

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  1. They cannot do it without any evidence, but complaints and witness reports can serve as evidence
  2. Unfair behavior, but it is difficult to prove unless you recorded the conversation. The dean will not sign your minute.
  3. Maybe, but may not be very useful at the end

I had similar experience with you; though I was a teaching assistant and research assistant (not lecturer). I was not only verbally warned but also substantially punished. Are you also in USA?

In a private place with two persons, I made a one sentence short comment on etiquette, without mentioning any protected characteristics. Later, that person made a complaint because the person felt offended. Without any investigation, I was given a substantial punishment; I did not even have a chance to speak-up before the decision was somehow made. Later, I even hired a lawyer to speak for me, but not useful in the end. Fighting the Dean is an up-hill battle.

We have to admit that unfairness is still there everywhere. There is little we could do, in my opinion. You are probably going to spend too much time and energy on this issue before getting it straight. Since you suffered no monetary loss, there is little you could get back from them.

I truly understand time and morale is more valuable than money, and you might want to get compensation because they wasted your time and broke your heart, but mental damage is usually hard to prove in a court.

On the other hand, if you strongly feel that you are going to win a discrimination or human-right lawsuit, you should consult a lawyer. You could also file a formal complaint to the right overhead office in your university, for example the Title IX office.

I did consider about these options, but later decided that I have more valuable things in my life to pursue with my limited time. Additionally, one of the decision makers actually did me a favor before, so I decided to forgive him for this time.

What I learned, in the end, is to never make a comment about anyone or any groups, no matter what my intention was. And never ask any personal questions about anyone, especially colleagues, unless I am 100% sure that we are true friends.

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