A Tale of Woe and Betrayal

With the start of a new Academic year a colleague of mine at an academic institution related to me the following sad incident.   It seems that their Theatre Department is suddenly seeking a new staff Costumer. I have never been accused of excessive brevity, so bear with me, if you will, as I relate this sad tale.

The former costumer for the department resigned suddenly a scant couple of weeks before the onset of the school year.  This, following a spring-long period of conflict arising from her abrupt verbal resignation during another in a string of less-than-stellar annual employment evaluations, followed once the opening was advertised by her retraction of that resignation on the grounds that she “misspoke”.   Reportedly, the institution’s Personnel Officer and Academic Dean, citing perceived technical irregularities in the documentation of her performance shortcomings and lack of clear and properly documented remedy in the annual evaluations, and the lack of a proper, written resignation, insisted that the job search be suspended, the costumer’s employment be extended and that a process of remediation to address the identified shortcomings be implemented.  These things were supposedly done.

Over the summer, there were reportedly incidents that could have served as indications of how things were set to unfold.  Staff obligations were not met, communications were never responded to, and the like.  This concluded with an early August written communication from the Costumer that she was terminating employment.

So far, dear reader, aside from the retracted resignation, I will warrant that this is neither hardly a new story nor a particularly interesting one.  However, the plot thickens.

It is reported to me that when said colleagues at this institution met with this individual to accept her keys, and conclude any final details,  he discovered that the institution’s Costume Shop computer that the Costumer used had been retrieved from summer storage (the Costume Shop being annually converted to another purpose over the summer months).  This the now former-Costumer explained away as the consequence of the Institutions Information Technology Service department needing to “test something”.

The savvy reader already probably knows the next plot twist.  When the student assistant from the Costume Shop started the computer during the first week of school she discovered that all of the files relating to the operation of the costume shop were mysteriously (or, perhaps, not-so-mysteriously) absent.

Is this simply the case of an employee retrieving material that could be rightfully considered her property?  Or is this something more: Betrayal? Vandalism? Sabotage? Theft?  More learned and credentialed minds than mine may debate the morality and legality of these events.

However, I believe that at least one moral of this story is unambiguous. For any number of reasons, an institution had best take steps to back up critical documents and data.

Have fun!  But be safe!

SJM

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