AIRSA's statement
AIRSA's statement(Pic: EdexLive desk)

All India Research Scholars Association urges measures to eradicate bullying in academia

To create a friendly and positive environment for research scholars in academia, AIRSA raises the critical matter of protecting scholars against bullying and harassment

On June 5, the All India Research Scholars Association (AIRSA) issued a statement highlighting a critical matter regarding the protection of PhD scholars against bullying in academia. "...bullies are experts at finding people's weaknesses. This universal truth means that everyone, including PhD scholars, is a potential target", the statement started. 

"Experiencing bullying or harassment does not indicate a lack of strength. Instead, it is a form of violence, and the responsibility lies solely with the perpetrator," it added. The association opined that the primary objective of bullying is the exertion of control and power. 

"Through a comprehensive review of the literature on workplace bullies, several traits commonly associated with bullies have been identified: Impulsiveness, Lack of conscientiousness and ethical standards, Competitive nature and jealousy, Extroversion, Aggressiveness and hostility and Selfishness and egocentrism," it read. 

Remarking on various forms of bullying such as undermining research efforts, exploiting students' work without proper credit, intimidation, verbal abuse, unfair criticism and excessive demands, the association highlighted the challenges scholars encounter. Besides the challenging academic journey, scholars undergo a lot of stress and pressure burdened with harassment, it said, adding, that they "may feel isolated and powerless to challenge their bullies".  

Urging for an immediate call to action from academic institutions, it suggested these steps to eradicate harassment and bullying: 

1. Developing and implementing anti-bullying policies

2. Regular training sessions to educate faculty, staff and students about recognising and preventing bullying

3. Supporting victims 

4. Holding perpetrators accountable by taking prompt and decisive action against bullies

5. Promoting a positive culture