Thoughts after the Chronicle Piece on Mike Shively and UVU

When serious complaints are made, the following four basic requirements will allow us to work together as respected colleagues at UVU:

First— Any member of the faculty, student, or staff member who alleges they have been harassed, discriminated against, threatened, or deprived of academic freedom, should be taken seriously.

Second— The claim should be investigated carefully by impartial investigators, a team including faculty peers if the accused is a member of the faculty.

Third— The accused person must be given a chance to respond to the allegations, knowing who is making them and what the specifics are, before a decision is made to suspend.

Fourth—During a suspension, the investigation should proceed with all due speed.

As The Chronicle of Higher Education (May 13) points out, the accuser in this case was taken seriously. 

As I noted in a previous post (A Report on the Report), the investigators were not impartial nor did they include members of the faculty. 

And as the UVU Report and The Chronicle document, the accused was not given the information he needed to defend himself until fifteen weeks after his suspension. 

A couple of quotes from The Chronicle reveal issues worth following up on:
The General Council of the university, The Chronicle reports, wrote that the president may suspend the faculty member with pay if university decision makers have concluded that the alleged actions constitute “a risk to public harm.”
The "risk to public harm" in this case was the accuser's claim that she thought Mike Shively might shoot her. At least as early as May 2, when the investigators interviewed the accuser, they knew from her testimony that she had misunderstood second-hand comments and that he had never threatened physical harm.
Since the suspension was for actions that constitute "a risk to public harm," and since the only action that met that standard had been proven unfounded by the accuser herself, the suspension should have been lifted. Instead, the suspension and the investigation continued for three more months. The investigators spent that time deciding whether Mike Shively had called student performance "pathetic," whether he used Canvas as a pedagogical tool, whether comments on student evaluations alleged distress because of the rigor of Mike's anatomy course, and what a consultant thought of Mike's textbook.
In regard to the suspension, The Chronicle cites the lawyer from the Utah attorney general's office who is representing the university in the suit brought by the Shively family:
"Placing him on paid suspension ensured the integrity of the investigation, the safety of the campus community, and prevented Shively from retaliating or from hearing “prying” comments, argued Alain C. Balmanno, 'What's the alternative? Well, the alternative is that you conduct an investigation when everybody is there, talking about it, and you don't really get a good investigation.'"
What kind of nonsense is this? You don't get a good investigation if the accused is allowed to defend himself?
According to Balmanno, The Chronicle continues, the "investigation lasted months because of the number of allegations and witnesses, and to ensure it was thorough. Shively was informed of the details of the allegations and evidence, the filing says, and he was able to provide extensive responses in person and in writing. Also, 'there is no right to due process during an investigation.'"
No right to due process! 
And he doesn't happen to mention that Mike was informed of details only fifteen weeks after being suspended.
The Chronicle cites him again: "The plaintiffs are arguing that once the investigation was all said and done, it was obvious that Shively posed no serious threat to the public, Balmanno said. 'That’s nice to say sort of after the fact,' he said. But 'if you’re a university, you can’t take that chance.'"
Nor should a university take that chance. The accuser and the accused should be interviewed immediately. The accused should know details in order to defend himself. The accuser should be questioned in response to that defense so she can admit that there was in fact no threat and that she had misunderstood several things and had misrepresented her collaboration with her colleague in ways that incensed her students and led them to file complaints.
The Chronicle states that the accuser met with President Tuminez in February. The investigation began soon thereafter. The suspension occurred on March 25. The accuser, at least according to the UVU Report, was not interviewed again till May 2, when she admitted there was no threat. I'm repeating these dates to argue that a member of the faculty who was finally proven no serious threat to the public remained suspended as such a threat until he killed himself.
This is no way to conduct ourselves as colleagues committed to "exceptional care" and to "accountability."


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