Nick Longrich is a paleontologist at the University of Bath. Unlike his colleagues who have garnered a reputation for working hard and honestly, Nick Longrich has gained a reputation as someone who bullies and harasses his own students.
He is a senior lecturer at the University’s department of biology and biochemistry. People revealed that Nick was bullying students and postdoctoral researchers in his lab. Many people in the paleontology community got worried about the students he is currently teaching and the ones that will join him in the coming semesters.
Sources say that Longrich shouts and screams at the postdocs and students. He even belittles them and questions their scientific abilities. Many members of the university have questioned how he supervises his junior colleagues. Harassment is a major issue and particularly when a person in an authoritative position performs it.
The press office of the University of Bath initially released a press statement and said that all the staff and students have the right to get dignified and respectful treatment. They also said that they are investigating the allegations of bullying and will take the necessary action.
More details on Nick Longrich’s controversy
The University gave further information on the harassment and bullying case. They shared that a formal complaint was made in May 2018 about a breach in the University’s Dignity and Respect Policy. They started investigating the matter in the start of June and it ended in July. A senior academic from a different University Department performed the investigation with the Human Resources team of the establishment.
They took written and oral statements and also took evidence from the person who lodged the complaint. The investigation team also interacted with the complaint’s subject and several others.
They found that the complaint was valid. And that there wasn’t any malicious intent behind the complaint. The team considered choices and gave the evidence to the investigation panel. Then, they took some disciplinary action and communicated the same to the complaint’s subject in a formal manner.
They gave the person warning for future conduct. And they changed the supervisory arrangements for both the current and future students.
Initially, it was unclear what the university did and how it handled the case. The response I shared above only illustrates that they took “some action”. It doesn’t specify who they took action against.
Moreover, the response doesn’t specify what kind of supervisory arrangements they made to safeguard the students from further harassment and bullying.
Further Action Against Nick Longrich
After the news spread, the Leverhulme Trust also heard about it. They had given a large grant to Longrich through the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bach. They also learned about the bullying allegations and started an investigation. The Trust had given Nick Longrich the Research Leadership Award which amounts to £998,815.
Further investigation revealed that Nick Longrich had invited some of the students of the next term in advance to start working in his lab. He asked them to arrive early. Also, another important fact is that the complaint was related to multiple students and not just one.
Moreover, the primary victims of his bullying were women. So there could be a chance that Nick Longrich is sexist.
Later, the Leverhulme Trust revealed that they took away Nick’s Research Leadership Award which was worth nearly a million pounds. However, they pointed out that the students wouldn’t face any disadvantages because of this change.
This means that the university made changes to supervision.
Results of the Action on Nick Longrich
The Leverhulme Trust continued supporting the students of the project even though Nick Longrich is facing disciplinary action. It’s also possible that the students can choose the supervision.
A large portion of the ~1 million pound grant was for the students and postdocs. The students are able to pursue their careers and students regardless of Nick’s conduct. And that’s great news.
The University later said that they gave one-to-one meetings to students with senior staff to discuss the alternative supervisory arrangements. However, it’s still unclear what will happen to Nick Longrich.
Nick was bullying students and the investigation revealed the same. Also, most of his victims were women. Why did he target women specifically? What issue did he have with those women that he shouted at them and questioned their scientific abilities?
Why Is This a Matter of Concern?
Bullying can have many negative effects on a person. While bullying in kids is already a significant issue, bullying in adults is also a major problem.
For example, a 2015 study found that the victims of workplace bullying are at double the risk of facing suicidal ideation over the following five years. In other words, it increases the chances of a person committing suicide.
Other effects of bullying are increased blood pressure, eating disorders, gastrointestinal problems, thyroid issues, mood disorders, and even self-harming behavior.
It’s unclear how severe Nick’s bullying was. The problem would have kept growing until those students and postdocs complained about Nick’s behavior.
But it puts his ability to function as an academic professional in question. Should institutes trust him with more students? Especially, when he has lost a million pound grant?
Right now, Nick Longrich has only lost a research grant worth nearly a million pounds. It’s proof that he was harassing and bullying his students and postdocs. Moreover, most of his victims were women.
So there’s a high chance that Nick Longrich is sexist. Keep in mind that Nick is still a part of the University of Bach.
Is the removal of grant sufficient action against workplace bullying and harassment? What about the subordinates that work under Nick?
This instance begs the question, are educational institutions still an unsafe place for women?
Multiple students complaint against Nick Longrich that he bullies them. Most notably, most of his victims were women. However, the action taken against him has been minuscule. There’s no assurance that his female students and subordinates are safe.
- Suspected sexist
- Bullied multiple students and postdocs
- Lost a ~1 million pound grant