I work at an institution of higher education. One of our employee benefits is a generous tuition reimbursement if we take classes here. I decided to take advantage of this and go back to school here. The educational experience is really excellent so far, and I'm hoping to finish my degree by taking classes part time around the FT job that grants me this tuition benefit.

I have a departmental VP who tells me they are supportive of me and my career, including my decision to pursue my degree. However, the actions of said VP do not line up with these words. On several occasions, VP has rearranged scheduling, stress-dumped (communicated urgency where there wasn't any), and done other things that have an observable pattern of undermining and belying those verbal affirmations.

When I talk one-on-one with VP, they seem congenial and genuine. I do not dislike VP completely as a person (outside of this problem), but all this runaround, this drastic contradiction between words and actions, leaves me feeling gaslit like my head got put in a blender. VP's actions don't match their words and I feel trapped. I don't know where to go with this, or who would even be accessible let alone appropriate to tap for intervention. I can't help being convinced it is deliberate -- it's too consistent to NOT be deliberate -- but if I try to tell anyone else that, or if I try to confront VP with that, I know it will go nowhere and probably even make things worse for me.

I don't know how to address this effectively, or at all. I need these games to stop and I want to be treated with the consideration and respect as an individual and professional that I deserve. I also need to get to "yes" on actual, practical, reasonable accommodations for scheduling class. None of the courses I need for the degree are offered at night, neither here nor what very few are paralleled at the local community college.

I'm concerned VP will keep circumstantially squeezing me this way until I'm forced to give up on school or resign (which will mean giving up on school as well, as I cannot afford tuition on my own without the benefit from my job). Resigning is not an option at this time. Thanks.

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    MODERATORS: this is a reworded "repeat" of something I asked in Interpersonal -- where people commented suggesting I should ask it here. If one of these needs to be removed, please remove that one and leave this one, thank you.
    – code-sushi
    Dec 6 '17 at 22:44
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    What I can recommend is that you reduce the length of your post considerably. Your core question is basically the last two paragraphs. Seems mostly like a complaint (rant) rather than a goal we can help you, surely reducing it will give it the right tone.
    – DarkCygnus
    Dec 6 '17 at 23:04
  • Also, consider whether or not Academia might be a better fit given the environment and scope of question. academia.stackexchange.com
    – Bluebird
    Dec 6 '17 at 23:08
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    You say that the VP is supportive, and that you are completing your degree, but then describe the dispute over flex time that you are having. Which is it? Are you currently getting the time to go to your class? Is the VP forbidding your departure for the class? What exactly is the problem?
    – Peter
    Dec 6 '17 at 23:12
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    Your question is still primarily about how you feel. Your comment seems to get to the heart of your question, which is: "My boss will not permit me to schedule flex time midday to take a course that I need, even though she claims to be supportive of my education. What other steps can I take to try to get this flex time?"
    – Peter
    Dec 7 '17 at 2:27

You need to be up-front with your VP regarding the times that you need to attend classes/tuition. Say pretty clearly what the time periods are and try to get a verbal agreement that it's ok. This makes it difficult for your VP to back down from.

Also, put these classes into your calendar as "Out of Office" or something that indicates that you're not available for work in these time periods.

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    I disagree with the "verbal", get a written trail. That VP don't seems too trustable, and even if, better to always have a trail.
    – Walfrat
    Dec 7 '17 at 10:22
  • Forcing a written trail where you have an existing good verbal relationship is an obvious trap, no matter how politely you word that email.
    – user44108
    Dec 7 '17 at 10:24
  • Look this comment : workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/103701/… VP has already agreed verbally and retracted,
    – Walfrat
    Dec 7 '17 at 10:30
  • Yeah. That first conversation was an agreement "in principle" that some time could be taken off. The conversation I'm referring to in my answer involves actual dates/times for study, as opposed to a generic request for flexibility.
    – user44108
    Dec 7 '17 at 10:34
  • Basically, if VP cannot be persuaded to allow a reasonable amount of flex, I won't be able to continue to take classes. Almost nothing is scheduled for night (I've used up what is), nearly all classes run 1.25-1.75 hours. If I had to boil down the most essential aspect of all this it would be how can I get to yes for a reasonable amount of flex time. Reasonable IMO is an hour or less per day. I'm not asking for anything more nor would I -- yet VP refuses to grant it.
    – code-sushi
    Dec 8 '17 at 0:30

I would stop reading so much into the VP's actions. Your assumption seems to be that the VP is trying to deliberately harm you with these actions, but you have no way of knowing his/her motives. Assuming the worst does no one any good.

First, I would make sure my expectations for flex time were in line with my role and department. If it's standard for people in your situation to take flex time or to take time off in order to take classes, schedule a meeting with the VP to figure out how to make the classes work with your schedule. If the VP won't give you the flex time, ask him/her to explain the reason for the denial. Come up with a plan that addresses the specific concerns.

If the VP won't budge, see if you can work something out with the professor.

  • Yeah, but I'm not "reading into". I don't pretend to know VP's motives; I'm mystified by inscrutable whim-based behavior and contradiction of behavior vs. words. This is observation of an ongoing problematic pattern, not pouting over not getting my way. There's way more to it, but people here didn't want me to be detailed, and it would require details to spell out the entire pattern, so.....
    – code-sushi
    Dec 8 '17 at 0:26
  • I did ask the reason for the denial and all I got was "your job comes first, you need to be here." A non-answer. Literally nothing would be impacted if I moved 45m from midday to start or end of day
    – code-sushi
    Dec 8 '17 at 0:36
  • Can you ask for clarification on the statement 'your job comes first?' If your boss is just a jerk who doesn't like you, there's unfortunately not a lot you can do besides look for an opportunity to change bosses. Is anyone else in your department taking time off for classes? Dec 9 '17 at 22:23

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity ignorance.

-- Hanlon's razor

Problem: So, you experience a disconnect between the verbal support of your further education and your work times with work load.

Your departmental VP probably has no clue that his communication style and choices wreak havoc on your work and studies. You know what is needed to finish this education. He doesn't. Bridge that gap.

Prepare, Time & Work: Get it clear for yourself what you need to do to succeed, both in your work and study. For example, be sure on the adjustments on your work times. Got a good overview?

Prepare, Communication style: Think about what you want changed, why it bothers you. How should your departmental VP communicate with you? Come up with examples.

Possible Solution: Good, now go and sit down with your departmental VP and talk this over. Thank him for his support of your further education. Tell him you want to talk about two things:

Communication. Then explain why his current communication style does not work with you. Then give examples of how you would like it to be.

Your Education. Tell him what kind of effort you need to put in. Show him when and why you need to take certain courses at certain times. Give him an option to support you, so he does not lose hours of your work. Make sure he understands that your education does not interfere with your work load!

1) You might not get all you want, but you at least have made your points clear(er).

2) It's not a you verses your departmental VP. You are both on the same team. Find a solution together!

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