It’s my duty as a human being to be pissed off
In Brazil public agents have the right to take some time off after some time to go on a leave to increase their capacities of any kind. Depending on the employer (federal, state or municipal government) a person can leave for a certain amount of time and then also depending on the function this person can leave for certain activities. When someone is working at a federal university as a professor, lecturer etc., a situation like the chance for a post-doctorate (domestic or abroad) could cause such a leave and then this would lead to a call for a substitute. Such substitutes are usually called up for two years and when they have to leave the post again, they must not take another temporary position at the same university for the following 24 months. That way the law wants to protect the abuse of employees and protect itself from chain contracts, which would generate a permanent contract according to the Brazilian labour law jurisdiction. Someone is either permanent (yes, there are still permanent posts in the academic field in Brazil) or only temporary (which is a very cultivated policy of European universities, which think that adding a bit of excitment to one’s life by being unemployed every couple of years without knowing if there is ever going to be the chance for a return to the academic world is the best thing that could happen to a scholar or scientist).
Very often the academic unit has someone in mind to fill in that position temporarily. Usually these are people known to the permanent post holders, ex-students, current master or doctorate students, people they got to know at conferences, friends, friends of friends etc.. But as the calls are public, it could happen that The Big Unknown also appears on the scene – and then this one is not wanted, as he or she is unknown. Especially in the country’s capital the exclusion and isolation of those who are unknown, the ousting of outsiders, strangers or foreigners is quite strong. Why Brasilia is so different from the rest of Brazil, where these things are hardly notable or even objected, remains a mystery. The author has just this explanation: as Brazil is not just one Brazil, there are many Brazils and each region or even state thinks that it is the only true Brazil and the rest is not, and in Brasilia they all get together from all over the country, the people there prefer to stay among themselves in their own tiny bubbles. They hardly get in touch with anyone else from another region of the country when it is not absolutely necessary, their activities are among the same cultural circle (e.g. Northeasteners hardly ever frequent any festivities from the people from the South and vice versa) and they simple live parallel to each other, not with each other.
This now is a true story, the names are changed to protect the persons involved. Early in the year 2020, a position opened at a federal university in Brasilia for a susbstitute position of a professor at a department related to the faculty of languages and arts. A man, a foreigner, who has not studied at this university, let’s call him Jack, saw this job opening and decided to apply for it. He filled in all the forms and handed in everything. According to the chronological schedule the draw for the topic of the presentation and the test lecture was supposed to be on the last day of the month. Then came the Covid-19 pandemy and put this process on a halt. For months there was silence, the pandemy held the university for ransom with an iron fist and nothing ever got done. By the end of the year 2020, the department realised that they still had the process open and would have to finish it until the end of the year, in case they would not want to lose anything. So in a hush hush activity the process was revived, but unlike how it happened when it was halted, the subscribed candidates were not informed of the resume of the process. From the eight candidates only two took the pedagogical exam, as the public hearing was called. Jack had other things to do as well during the pandemic year and therefore did not take a look at the for months stalled homepage of the process every day; so he was not among those two who were heard, but none of them was hired anyway. Obviously the desired person was not among those two.
By the end of the year, there were only three days left until the year 2021 would come, the process was reopened under a new file number, but with the same conditions. Jack took a very strong interest in that post, because it could have been his ticket back to the academic world, which had spat him out in Europe several years before. So he reapplied for the position, handed in all his documents and this time the sacred cow of the universities all over the world, the administration, was better organised. This time they actually sent mails about every step and when there were new files or activities of the process, all the candidates were informed about them. So the day of handing in the documents came again. It was a Tuesday, Jack handed in all his documents and waited for Wednesday to come.
Wednesday was the day of the draw for Thursday. What draw? As in the previous process, all candidates were numbered and the call for candidates stated that on the day before the hearing, they would be drawn as for the topic and time they would have to lecture about on the next day. That draw is an administrative act. Anyone who disagrees is welcome to leave a comment under this article.
So Wednesday came, the draw was to start at 1400. Jack had some problems to get into the virtual room, but at 1407 he made it in, still in the tolerable time of a 10 minutes waiting period announced in the call. He identified himself to the three ladies of the commission, let’s call them Carolina, Verena and Joelma, and waited for the draw to start. There was another candidate present and her and Jack’s number were put into a sack to be drawn from to see which candidate’s application would be treated first concering time and topic of the hearing lecture. Jack was not the first one to be drawn so he had to wait. The moment the hour of the hearing of the other candidate was drawn, Jack’s internet connection failed and did not return for the next 4 hours. He tried everything possible to get back into the room and when he finally could establish a mobile date connection, the commission did not let him back in anymore. Hence the why…… the reader may draw his or her own conclusions from that. Anyway, Jack did not give up. He sent a mail at 1445 explaining what happened (as he was present and this could be confirmed by the recording of the draw), asking for his topic and time of his hearing and waited for an answer. The answer was…… silence. No answer, so Jack prepared all 4 topics for the next day, as he believed he would have been drawn.
On the next day, at 1320, 40 minutes before the start of the hearings, he received an answer. Mrs Carolina, who declared herself as the chairlady of the commission, informed Jack that his participation was refused, because he was not present. She quoted a guideline of the dean, which only dealt with the topic for the day of the hearing. There was absolutely nothing about an administrative act in that guideline. Jack tried to settle it in an informal way, responding immediately to the mail telling that this was an administrative act and therefore not covered by the quoted passage. There was no answer. As he felt treated extremely unfairly, Jack decided to go for appeal against the whole process and result and handed that one in at 1430. His appeal was rejected first, as he had handed it in too early. According to the secretary of the department he would have to wait for the provisional result to come out to be able to go against it. So this is what Jack did. He handed his protesting appeal in again 20 minutes after the provisional result was published. The provisional result had one rejected candidate, who obviously did not score enough points in the basic pointage but who had the best result in the hearing, and two other candidates who were accepted in the form of a ranking. The commission had two days time to deal with Jack’s appeal – and the appeal was rejected. For some very strange reason the appeal was treated by the same three ladies, Carolina, Verena and Joelma, who had already rejected his participation in first place. When Jack asked at the secretariat to have his injust treatment judged by a second instance (according to Brazilian law each public act must have a second instance of appeal), he was informed that there was no second instance. Jack could have gone to court and definitely would have won the right to be heard, but he would not have got the job even with a brilliang performance in the hearing. Absolutism rules, arbitrariness as well and as Jack wants to have a future at this university, may it be as a student or lecturer, he refrained from taking things further, but the bitterness remains and this injustice is not forgotten.
Even in countries with a very questionable juridical system and state administration there is an instance of appeal composed of different people. Not in Brazil, at least not at this federal university, which declares itself as a fighter for equal rights. There was no man present in this commission, which does make one wonder if the idea of gender mainstreaming and equal rights and representation of the sexes has not arrived at this place or if it is simply a one sided idea. There is no second instance, no instance of appeal, which makes one wonder why one would appeal anyway when the same people, who treat someone injust, also decide about the appeal. As they were infallible in the first place, why would they go against their own decision now?
Public administration is supposed to act only based on laws and guidelines and there would always be the chance to run against unlegal decisions, but that is not the case here. Mediocricy and favouring one certain candidate always find their way and injustice prevails.