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The University of California San Diego promulgates a list of nine "Principles of Community" to its faculty, staff, and students. The second principle states, "We affirm each individual's right to dignity and strive to maintain a climate of justice marked by mutual respect for each other." The eighth principle asserts, "We are committed to promoting and supporting a community...free of abusive or demeaning treatment," and the ninth stresses, "We are committed to the enforcement of policies that promote the fulfillment of these principles."

In addition to these principles, the university also has a "Workplace Violence Employee Handbook" that clearly lays out its "Zero Tolerance Policy": "Any intentional act of intimidation, threat of violence, or act of violence committed against any person or to the property of another...is prohibited."

Paula Schacht read these principles and policies when she was hired in June of last year to be an administrative assistant to Dr. Thomas Kipps, deputy director of research operations at the Rebecca and John Moores UCSD Cancer Center. That's why she doesn't understand how the university hasn't fired or even suspended the co-worker who, she says, threatened, intimidated, berated, and physically assaulted her on a near-daily basis for the entire nine months she worked as Dr. Kipps's assistant.

When Schacht, a diminutive woman who speaks with a soft Texan accent, first took the job, she was told that Dr. Kipps, a renowned leukemia researcher trained at Harvard and Stanford, would be her immediate supervisor. But it soon became clear to her that not Dr. Kipps but his other administrative assistant, Mary Carpenter, was her de facto supervisor. Everything was fine for the first three weeks of the job, Schacht says. "Then it suddenly turned."

The first incident, Schacht recalls, "was on a Friday. I remember she [Carpenter] was screaming and being verbally abusive to me." After that, Schacht says, abuse from Carpenter was nearly perpetual. "She would constantly be in my face. She would come in and ask me for a file, and if I couldn't find it immediately, she would start going through the file cabinet and literally throw the files out onto my work area. She would stand by the door if I were making phone calls. And if I wasn't saying what she thought I should be saying to the person at the other end, she'd grab the phone off my ear, sometimes pulling my hair out in the process. She once threw a handful of sharpened pencils onto my desk that bounced up toward my face. She called me 'stupid liar' and 'idiot.' "

After a couple of months on the job, Schacht says she was at her "wit's end" with the treatment she was receiving from Carpenter. When she asked her co-workers what had happened to the administrative assistant who had the job before her, she was told that the prior assistant, Reneé Johnson, had transferred to a job on a different floor of the building. Schacht contacted Johnson and the two met. "We compared notes," Schacht says, "and we found that we were treated [by Carpenter] in an identical fashion."

"It was kind of frightening to discuss it," Johnson says. "We realized it was a pattern of behavior, and we determined that it wasn't we who were the problem. Because we had both been psyched into believing that maybe what was going on was because of our job performance."

Not only had Johnson worked at the cancer center, she was a cancer patient there. "Come December," she says, "I will be in my fifth year of remission."

While working under Dr. Kipps and Mary Carpenter, Johnson says she suffered the same abuse that Schacht described. Often, on her commute home, Johnson says, "I would sit on the bus and the tears would just come. It was like a river of tears. And I'd be sobbing, and the other people on the bus were becoming distraught, because they knew me and knew that I'm a happy person. A lot of them were telling me, 'We have a job in our department, Reneé. Go and apply for this job.' "

Johnson did just that, after her oncologist told her that the stressful work environment was jeopardizing her recovery from breast cancer. She and Schacht both still work at the Moores Cancer Center, but not under Dr. Kipps or with Carpenter. Before she left Kipps's office, Johnson says, she attempted to address the situation with Carpenter woman-to-woman. When that didn't work, "I asked to speak to Dr. Kipps alone. He finally came in to talk to me. And I told him, 'This is not working for me...so I want you to know that I'm going to HR.' A couple of weeks after that, Mary came into my office...and she said, 'Do you know what, I can go to HR too.' That shocked me because I hadn't said it to her, I had said it to Dr. Kipps, and he must have told Mary."

On September 12, 2006, Schacht wrote an e-mail to Dr. Dennis Carson, director of the Moores Cancer Center and the immediate supervisor of Dr. Kipps, in which she stated, "I cannot describe how extremely disturbed I am by the abhorrent and abusive maltreatment I've been subjected to by Mary Carpenter. The culmination was last Thursday evening after three months of unbelievably insulting and disrespectful verbal onslaught. I was so severely affected by Mary's unceasingly harassing behavior that I had to hurry to urgent care with chest pains at the end of the day."

Schacht went on to say that Carpenter "comes into my office approximately every five minutes to stand suffocatingly close and demands [to know] what I'm working on. She demeans me when I tidy up the office and keep my workspace well organized. She threatens me on a weekly basis with my job or with going to Dr. Kipps about me. She throws paperwork at me that flies all over my desk. She uses abusive language to describe my work, saying that it looks 'shitty'.... She calls me stupid, and she calls me a liar. She raps her fist in anger on my desk without any provocation. She taps on the desk while rudely humming when I'm on the phone. She pulled the heavy desk chair over my foot today while I was on the floor plugging something into the computer. No apology followed when I exclaimed in pain. When [I was] trying to escape her right-in-my-face bullying, she grabbed my arm and blocked my path to taunt me further."

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turko May 20, 2008 @ 12:38 p.m.

I went through a much more humiliating process at UCSD then this story you wrote. Those whom have worked here for many years, like me, have known this place to be a very unethical and dishonest organization and a microcosm of this unjust government. The labor Relations does everything in its power to abuse its power and misguide and ruin career employees-as they tried to do to me. This is a system you cannot hold those with authority accountable for their actions, because if you do, they will us their power to discard you as garbage-- knowing the public will never know. I should know because I stood up to Mr Lickwig (CEO of UCSD Hillcrest Hospital) and his right hand thug director Denise Goodrich and they made every effort to screw me over for disclosing their incompantancies! It’s been two years they shut me up, butI am as angry as ever, and I demand compensation from these unethical asses. There is no wonder why --people have been suing this place every chance they have. The University (UCSD) uses our endless supply of tax dollars to pay for the best attorneys to screw the very people that run its facilities and built our towns and schools, and when their wrong they settle out of court ordering you to shut up and keep the dirty secrets away from the public ear! This hypocrit governing system has been in the self distrust mode for a long time and I am completely appalled by this government as a whole-- ever since I worked in this damed place! It doesn’t surprise me why I hear so much hate at this place. After working more than twenty years at UCSD I have come to realize how out of control this government has become. I will never trust this government again, thanks to this pompous institution and its dishonest capitalist pigs at UCSD! I believe this government will ultimately fail from its own internal forces as well as those abroad, because it goes against the morality of people in general. If you really care,please contact me, I wrote a diary about my humiliating ordeal at UCSD. I ask anyone that is contributing to this system to stop doing so, until a public hearing through a private neutral party is in place-- to monitor them for many years- to ensure we will survive as a nation-- or there is no hope. I would deeply suggest that an internal investigation be folowed up on all employees terminated from the UC sys. I can gaurantee you will find a lot of horrible things! 5-20-08

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turko May 20, 2008 @ 4:07 p.m.

Adding to the River of Tears write up I forgot one more comment on the UCSD horrible treatment to me dated 5-20-08. I never thought it was possible when I saw trouble looming, but everyone of MY DUE PROCESS where violated and I mean "ALL" of them. Never once did labor relations bother for one moment to call me in and ask what was wrong! When I was expected to see them (labor relations) by order of their Director Doug Stauffer and assosiate Director Denise Goodrich-- I never received my legal representative (union rep Jhon Connors and Tony Servantes) during the entire ordeal that lasted months! Imagine that kind of crap happening to you! This is a Columbine in the makings! It was clear after many intimidations by their staff that on the last day I was asked to leave the department, my legal representative never came into the room to make his presence known to me. After making the decision to leave under severe pressure and against my will, the union representative came into the room from next door accepting the transfer. I realized at that point the UNION SETC had closed deals behind my back! I was truly alone! Two months after I left it was clear why all this was happening—three of the four people that where slandering me got promotions!

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