One of Britain’s leading universities is failing to stamp out bullying and harassment, some of its staff said, after a university principal was allowed to stay in office despite complaints of intimidating behavior towards his staff. colleagues.
Professor Adekunle Adeyeye, principal of Trevelyan College at Durham University, is said to have frequently made his colleagues cry and made sexist remarks.
He resigned from the university‘s bullying policy committee after the Guardian approached him last week, but he is expected to stay on as a university principal.
The Guardian spoke to five former staff who say they experienced intimidating behavior or misogynistic comments from Adeyeye, who joined the university in January 2020.
Two people had filed formal grievances against him within 16 months and three left concerns about his manners.
The university and college branch of the institution said in a statement Thursday that the case highlights “extremely important structural problems in Durham”, which has been pursued by complaints of bullying and harassment on campus.
The union, which represents nearly 1,300 academics and university staff, said: “While we cannot comment on this particular case while the proceedings are ongoing, there have been similar cases in the pass.
“It appears that the university has, in many cases, been reluctant to address the structural problems that allowed the bullying and settled for short-term solutions.”
He said that too often “positions of power are abused and workers and students are subjected to intimidation, harassment and other forms of exploitation” and “too often procedures and policies designed to protect people don’t.
“This case shows how top-down official initiatives, however well-intentioned, are often ineffective and can be easily manipulated.”
The union branch committee called on the university to “state publicly and unequivocally that intimidating, sexist and bullying behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
The university said in a statement: “We do not accept any form of prejudice or discrimination at Durham University. We condemn any incident of racism, harassment and intimidation in the strongest terms and will take action. measures in accordance with our published policies. ”
A spokeswoman said everyone has the right to work and study in a safe and respectful environment, and that all staff and students must follow university regulations on conduct and values of behavior. .
She said her colleagues would be supported when they raised concerns about potential misconduct. Complaints against Adeyeye were “fully and fairly handled in accordance with our published policies and procedures,” she said, and the process was “not yet complete but we have and will continue to follow proper due process.”
A disciplinary investigation last month confirmed several complaints against Adeyeye, including some of possible misconduct or serious misconduct.
Durham University’s disciplinary regulations recommend that where an allegation of a serious breach has been made against a staff member, for example an offense which may constitute serious misconduct, it may be appropriate to suspend the staff member from their duties. full pay duties.
A former colleague said they were “on the verge of breakdown” and would return home in tears because of Adeyeye’s “venom and nastiness”. Another said he “created fear” in his colleagues and that Durham was failing to tackle his “bullying problem… I think it’s rampant within the university. It is happening. produced in all departments, in all colleges.
Adeyeye did not respond to requests for comment. He is reportedly on annual leave, but is expected to return next week to interview candidates for the post of deputy head of the college. The former deputy manager left earlier this year following a number of incidents with Adeyeye.
Durham University, one of the UK’s leading academic institutions, has come under scrutiny over its approach to bullying after a damning report revealed last year that nearly one in five employees and 30% of students had experienced some form of bullying or harassment.
The commission said the problem had not been addressed at different levels of the university and was “often badly treated” and “sometimes even tolerated and accepted”.
The Durham, Palatinate student newspaper reported this week that more than 20 alumni had stopped donating to the university while Adeyeye remained in post at Trevelyan College.
A spokeswoman for the university said she had received “no communication regarding the withdrawal of alumni support.”