Troubling whistle-blower article
I was horrified by the article in the Faculty Newsletter Vol. XVIII No. 2 written by David G. Wilson, entitled "Tyranny against a whistle-blower at MIT." I have no personal knowledge of the atrocities alleged in that article, but if only half of the allegations are true it points at a serious problem in our treatment of staff.
I have been at MIT for 41 years (undergraduate + graduate + faculty), and I have not heard any similar story at MIT. I have heard from a friend about a similar case of mistreatment of staff at Caltech. Until I read David's article I thought that this was a one-of-a-kind event: that somehow there was a special problem at Caltech.
If we assume that the allegations are true in both cases, perhaps this is a symptom of a structural problem. Since the "bad" people in both cases usually seem to be "good and honorable" humans, I am having a great deal of trouble trying to figure out the forces that cause their awful behavior. Indeed, I have a fear that if I were an administrator (a position which I never intend to be in!), I might be driven to act in a similarly horrible way. So I wonder what is the mechanism by which all these "good people" are let to act in such an obviously nasty manner. If they are indeed lying, do they really believe the lies that they spout, or are they being intentionally dishonest? If it is the former, what makes them believe the lies? If it is the latter, how can they live with themselves? It seems like "Recovered Memory Syndrome," where people "remember" things that did not occur.
I know that I am being utopian, and perhaps silly, but if we could figure out the mechanisms, perhaps we could learn how to reform the organizational structures and/or social systems to prevent such bad situations in the future.
Gerald Jay Sussman