University Lecturer Offers Assessment Marks for Students Who Attend Climate Strike

September 20, 2019 Updated: September 25, 2019

A social media post to a private Facebook group for Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) students revealed a university lecturer offering his students full marks for an assessment if they “attend the climate Strike today.”

An RMIT student made a post on RMIT StalkerSpace—an online community for RMIT students that isn’t officially connected with the university—that showed a screenshot of an email he received from his engineering lecturer.

“Hope you are well,” senior lecturer Dr. Hormoz Marzbani wrote. “Yes, you could get full marks (5% of the project mark) if you attend the climate Strike today in Melbourne.”

The lecturer then stated what the students would need to do to gain the assessment marks.

“All you need to do is to email me a group selfie while in the crowd for the strike with one condition,” Marzbani stated.

He added that any photo with “less than half of the group members” would be unacceptable.

Anyone unable to meet these conditions was encouraged to attend the lecture instead.

“In case you do not have enough people for the photo, I suggest you attend the lecture and the group meeting. I will be available in the lecture room,” he wrote.

Marzbani did not comment on the email when approached by The Epoch Times. He forwarded the enquiry to RMIT’s communications office.

An RMIT spokesperson responded to The Epoch Times with an email statement confirming that the student’s in Marzbani’s class had been offered full assessment marks to go towards their project.

“Students in this course are currently completing a design project, and a component of this project relates to environmental impact and ethics.

“While the teacher has determined that the conversation at today’s global climate strike is educational and relevant to the learning for this project, RMIT will of course be looking at the decision to ensure that assessment integrity is maintained,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson emphasised that the “assessment figure in question is 5%.”

Responses from Facebook Users

Reactions to the Facebook post showing the email ranged from excitement to disappointment.

“Stunning and brave,” one user said.

“He’s always being a legend,” said another.

“Someone organise one of these during exams,” one student joked.

Other commenters weren’t as impressed.

“Dude it’s bribing students to go to the climate change rally. That [expletive] is illegal surely,” one person commented.

“This makes us RMIT Alumni look terrible,” an alumnus said.

RMIT University Australia
People walk past a sign for Melbourne RMIT University on Dec. 11, 2007. (William West/AFP/Getty Images)

“I definitely support the cause but isn’t this academically undermining the value of the grade?” another asked.

One of his students from the previous semester commented, “He’s one of the best professors out there.”

‘Global Strike 4 Climate’

RMIT said that the university has “a long-standing commitment to sustainability and we’re proud of the progress we’re making against our sustainability goals” in a public statement regarding the ‘Global Strike 4 Climate’ on Sept. 20.

“Climate change is a serious issue for us all and we know that many of our students and staff are passionate about how they can make a change,” the statement read.

“With RMIT’s responsibility to the broader community front of mind, our goal of positive sustainable outcomes and practices is, and always will be, integral to how we operate.

“While we will continue to listen to feedback, we must balance the experience of our students, which is why university operations are continuing today.

“We acknowledge there are a number of students who wish to participate in the strike and our staff have been working to ensure they would not be disadvantaged in doing so.”

Climate strike Organisers estimated 100,000 people at the Melbourne ‘Global Strike 4 Climate’ rally. The number of participants was revised down from 150,000 in initial estimates. Victorian police did not provide an estimate.

Organisers cited smaller but sizable crowds in other states, with 80,000 participants estimated for Sydney, and more than 35,000 for Brisbane. Queensland Police gave an estimate of 12,000 for the Brisbane rally.

One 10-year-old student, Parker Renshaw, who attended the rally in Brisbane told the ABC that he and his classmates were fearful for their future.

“I would love to be in school at the moment but it’s not much choice to be here, the government is forcing us to come,” he said. “My education is important but the world is even more important and we need to help it.”

In Darwin, 11-year-old high school student Argus Gurry told AAP his fears. “The standard of living up here will decrease dramatically. It will be hot and the population here will decrease. Less people are going to want to actually emigrate here and stay here,” he said.

In a press release on the day of the strike, RMIT’s Dr. Blanche Verlie said, “Young people are enduring the pain of the end of the world once known to them and are struggling to generate promising alternatives for themselves due to obstructions from the people in power.” Verlie is researching the emotional impact of the dire climate change warnings from the IPCC on young people.

The worldwide strike movement started in August 2018 when 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg began protesting outside Sweden’s parliament on school days.

Thunberg arrived in New York last week and made her first formal appearance on Sept. 13 in front of the White House. She did not mention President Donald Trump, who many see as a climate change sceptic following his withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, in her remarks.

Thunberg will attend the UN’s youth climate forum on Sept. 21 and address world leaders at the UN secretary-general’s climate summit on Sept. 23.

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