A human resources professor sacked by an Australian university just four days before Christmas, and six days after he had complained about the institution to Victoria’s anti-discrimination commission, has claimed he lost his job over a tweet about Greta Thunberg, reports the THE.
Prof Andrew Timming, who is the co-founder of our sister organisation, FSU of Australia, said his 21st December dismissal by RMIT University was the culmination of an escalating campaign against him following what he considered an inconsequential tweet a year earlier, made as part of public engagement work that the institution and other universities increasingly like to encourage.
Following a social media spat between the social media influencer Andrew Tate, who has since been accused of human trafficking, and environmental activist Greta Thunberg, during which Ms Thunberg derided the size of Mr Tate’s penis, Prof Timming observed that “demeaning sexual jokes” appeared fair game when directed from women to men, but not the other way around.
“Maybe in retrospect it was controversial, but that’s neither here nor there,” he told the THE. “Academics have a right to be offensive and shocking. It’s part of our role. We’re encouraged by our universities to engage in public debate. It’s called impact.
“I decided to delete my Twitter account…thinking that would pacify the university and maybe keep my job,” he added. “Obviously, it didn’t.”
He said RMIT then spent months trying to get rid of him, and administrators “went ballistic” after he lodged a grievance last May alleging that RMIT had violated the university’s intellectual freedom policy by threatening disciplinary action over the tweet.
Prof Timming was fired after disputing what he claimed was a near-doubling of his teaching workload. On 13 December the university launched an investigation of his refusal to accept work directions, and a week later found him guilty of “serious misconduct”.
He was summoned to a disciplinary meeting the following day, when he was sacked and his access to RMIT’s computer network was cancelled. Prof Timming was subsequently told he could collect his personal belongings and computer files under the supervision of security staff.
Following his sacking, a branch of the UK’s University and College Union (UCU) decided it would be a good idea to put out a tweet taking joy in the fact that an Australian academic had just lost his career and livelihood.
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