More students complain of ‘pressure’ to join climate rally

Students at two more Sydney universities are complaining about the "politically unfair" pressure on them by senior academic staff to attend the Global Climate Strike in Sydney on Friday.

The complaints follow an email sent to students last week at the University of Notre Dame calling on them to join the controversial action.

Sydney University is encouraging students to attend Friday's rally by publishing links to the climate strike on an official Student News website, alongside a note stating that students who attend "will not be penalised for missing class to attend".


Part of the email sent to students.
Part of the email sent to students.


And law students at the University of NSW have been told that while classes will still be held on Friday, "no roll will be taken".

"As a consequence, for those who choose to participate in the rally, non-attendance in class will not affect your attendance record or class participation mark," an email titled Climate Strike (20 September), by law school subject convenor Michael Crawford stated.

One law student, who asked not to be named over for fear of being singled out, said she was paying tens of thousands for law subject fees and could not believe the biased actions of the university.

"Does this mean anyone can just take a day off, or only those of a certain political leaning?" she said. "Very unfair to rest of people."

An earlier message from deputy vice-chancellor Professor Merlin Crossley sent across the UNSW campus also told students that course convenors were being told to "be accommodating" over absences on the day.

Buses are being hired at the university by the UNSW student union to ship students into the city for the day.

The email sent to students at the University of Notre Dame was sent from an address marked "Sydney Campus Life". It claimed that a decision had been made to support the strike after a meeting of just 20 students.

It listed several "demands" including 100 per cent publicly-owned renewable energy by 2030, a ban on fossil fuels, including the Adani mine in Queensland, and a just transition to climate-friendly jobs.

The strike is set to be ­attended by thousands of NSW school students who are being compelled by hard-line green activists groups to skip school for the day.

"We democratically deci­ded on these demands in line with the school strike demands: A just transition to climate jobs, 100 per cent publicly-owned renewable energy by 2030 and no new fossil fuels or nuclear, ­including Adani," the email said.

Notre Dame student James Lu. Picture. Rohan Kelly
Notre Dame student James Lu. Picture. Rohan Kelly

University student James Lu sent a reply email to the acting vice-chancellor and said the email "pressured" students to join the rally.

He said the email "basically constituted an inducement to skip classes".

"This is a partisan political issue and ultimately, the university's official endorsement gives the impression that they speak on behalf of all students, which they do not," Mr Lu said.

Notre Dame University in Broadway.
Notre Dame University in Broadway.

Nursing students Natalie Murray, 21, and Sarah Cheer are behind the charge after starting the Climate Strike UNDA group three weeks ago to get students involved.

The group emailed the head of campus to ask the university to support staff and students striking on the day.

A university spokeswoman yesterday said that they were not involved in the strike but did "have a group of students who have ­requested and been given permission to take part without penalty for missed classes".