Following the suicide of a UVA employee last month, university administrator have been criticized by some for failing to respond adequately to the victims complaints of workplace bullying. The University Ombuds was one of the offices the victim contacted shortly before his death. Brad Holland, the UVA Ombuds, has remained quiet about the case, but is opening up about bullying on the campus.
According to the local newsweekly:
Holland laments the fact that UVA has no formal anti-bullying policies in place and hopes Sullivan’s probe might lead to enacting some. It was Holland who, a little over a year ago, led the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs into inviting Canada-based workplace bullying expert Valerie Cade to Grounds for what’s been described as UVA’s first-ever anti-bullying workshops. [...]
Indeed, Ombudsman Holland asserts that most bullied UVA employees decline his offers to intervene or to contact the bully, for fear of jeopardizing jobs in a town that lacks other major employers. In academia especially, adds Holland, recommendations from superiors are crucial to advancement.
“I spend a lot of time with bullying victims,” says Holland, “trying to assess their mental strength, because it’s tough to help someone who is immersed in this if they’re not prepared to deal with it.”
Holland says he’s seen bullying victims experience severe exhaustion— even physical illness.
“It really destroys you, really beats you down,” says Holland. “Bullies pick vulnerable targets. But if you stand up to them, they often move on to someone else, or change tactics.”