I was not quite sure where to post this. I’m a programme leader at uni plus a lecturer and a small group of my students have formed a strong aversion to me. I have only known them for six weeks and see them once a week. At the beginning of the week I was verbally assaulted by one of these students because I pulled her up on her lateness (45 minutes late). She behaved aggressively towards me and successfully intimidated me. I reported this to the dean and was made to have a meeting with the student and the dean. The meeting was awful. She continued her abuse. Saying really nasty things and I just sat there and took it. I just needed to stay professional but I was crying inside. Once she left I did have an outwardly cry.
I would just like to know if anyone has been in this situation before and if so, how did it resolve? I’m feeling terribly anxious about delivering I this lecture group again.
Thank you. Didn’t spot that. The dean remained really neutral and tried to stop it when it turned aggressive but the student just kept going back there. The uni are supporting me and the student is being put through the minor misconduct process. It’s more about my feelings. I wish I could be stronger and not let it bother me but I feel terribly anxious and am scared of seeing this student again.
Gosh yes, I would contact the union, this sounds awful. I understand about the thick skin, I often think that mine isn't thick enough for this job. But it is not at all surprising that you feel anxious. I would too, especially with what seems like not strong support from your Dean. I have had a minor experience of this with a student (female) who was aggressive and rude to me in workshops. I never reported it but it's absolutely horrible.
Not helpful at this moment, but I can't help wondering if this kind of thing happens more often to female academics? I think more generally the atmosphere at the moment is dangerously in favour of the 'student experience.' I have got to the point for example where I fear what I would consider accurate (rather than inflated) marking, in case of repercussions from students who don't like the result.
Good grief! I wouldn't have dreamed of being mean to one of my lecturers! I'd have been too bloody scared! May I ask what department you're In? Curious to know what kind of student wouldn't be eminently respectful of their teachers ...are they undergraduates?
I know Lemony - even though I have experienced something along these lines, I am really shocked by nakedmum's post. I too would never have come close to giving a lecturer a hard time. But a big difference is that I thought they were doing me a favour, not the other way round.
The thing is, I wouldn't be surprised if there is more of this over time. Maybe it's just my institution, but the balance of power has really swung towards the students and I can only imagine this is going to enable more bad behaviour which is not dealt with by authorities. I know I sound very cynical .. but, you know, life. I often feel scared of my students. Anyway, I am totally hi-jacking nakedmum's thread, sorry.
Thank you for your replies. I am in the creative arts sector. The institution very much struggles with the power balance. Our students definitely view themselves as customers and this is something that the student called herself in the meeting with the dean. I do believe unfortunately that this has a lot to do with gender. I don't think that if I was a male lecturer I would have received such a bad reaction. It is so hard because if a student in compulsory education behaved this way there would be serious consequences but as this student pays for her education I have to take this abuse. I really love my job, and have great relationships with the majority of my students but this has really knocked my confidence and I have taken a day of leave today to try and clear my head.
What would the union be able to help me with? The dean has taken her through the minor misconduct process which really means nothing as she will be back in the class on Monday. As she left she pointed at me and asked the dean 'and what are you going to do about her?' I've asked the dean to do a formal observation of one of my classes. I am not sure what else can be done?
Oh goodness, naked, this sounds horrific. Poor you. I would have to take several days off. Honestly, I don't know how the union might help (others may know more) but perhaps they could advise on rights and it might be good to have some sort of paper trail on this.
I wouldn't say that my institution struggles with the power balance, more that it has entirely given into it, and is in fact enabling it. It has the opposite effect from intended, not least because we can quite simply never meet the students' new expectations as 'customers', so they are bound to be disappointed. I wish beyond anything that universities would work together collectively to prevent that attitude, but it's not going to happen.
Oh, that sounds horrible, naked. Observation sounds good - I'm wondering if you might be able to get something where you always have someone else in there with you? I was bullied by a research assistant, and HR provided an observer for all our meetings. I didn't want to be alone with her (although I suppose you have the other students? but it sounds like they are 'with' her), and also wanted someone else there who could document what occurred and that her tales I what I said/did were untrue (she claimed I was physically intimidating her and had said things I had not).
HR, Occupational Health, and Union might all be options for someone who could provide an observer. And if they don't step up, perhaps you could just ask a colleague to sit in your classes and say it is peer review of your teaching? And you can even make that true - you could discuss what occurred and how you taught and stuff.