Students from the course Microeconomics 1 (ECON1101) have issued complaints to the College of Business and Economics (CBE) after the course convenor revealed his intention to disrupt lecture recordings in order to force students to attend physical lectures. The convenor made additional comments which have caused discomfort amongst the course cohort.
Earlier this semester, the course convenor for Microeconomics 1, Professor Tourky, directed students to either attend lectures in person or to discontinue their enrollment in the class. The convenor made statements implying he intended to deliberately withhold lecture recordings from the platform Echo360, saying, “I will not respond to things like “lecture recordings aren’t available, I couldn’t hear you in the lecture recordings”…that’s great, that’s part of the plan.”
The convenor also discouraged students who wished to report this intended action, saying, “I’m the Director of the Research School of Economics…I have no boss, when it comes to economics. You can complain as much as you want.”
The convenor has also made other comments such as comparing an economic curve to “an only child, with a meaningless life, in an environment where they have no friends isolated for the rest of their life.”
He further talked about inhaling, or sniffing, diesel fumes in Darwin, saying, “I need to smell, I wanna (sic) enjoy it.” Some ANU students raised concerns that this was a racialised reference to First Nations Australians and to the racist stereotype of substance abuse in First Nations communities.
Although lectures for the course continued to be uploaded on Echo360 despite the convenor’s stated contrary intentions, some students from the course have become discontent and found comments regarding strict presence for physical lectures to be hostile and unjust. Students have complained to the ANUSA College of Business and Economics (CBE) representatives.
The representatives told Woroni, “These concerns and comments have been taken seriously and have been raised with CBE…These concerns have [also] been addressed with the convenor. Concerns around the delivery of the content are ongoing.”
An ANU spokesperson informed Woroni, “The ANU College of Business and Economics has met with student representatives about comments made by [the convenor]. Students indicated that they welcomed these meetings.”
They also note that “all staff and students are free to talk about their personal experiences under the University’s policies on free speech.” The convenor has informed the class that he will often channel his personal experiences in the teaching material.
The ANU has recognised that the comments about only children “may have caused offence” but are adamant that “there is nothing in [the convenor’s] comments that indicate he has gone against the University’s code of conduct and behaved in a manner that is inappropriate or goes against ANU policies.” ANU did not comment on the references to sniffing petrol fumes.
The ANU’s policy on freedom of speech notes that members of staff will enjoy freedom of speech, “subject only to restraints or burdens imposed by the reasonable and proportionate regulation of conduct necessary to enable the University to foster the wellbeing of staff and students.”
This duty to foster wellbeing supports reasonable and proportionate measures to prevent someone from engaging in lawful speech which a reasonable individual would regard as to “humiliate or intimidate ” others, with intention to have either or both effects.
However, the policy also states that staff do not have a duty to protect individuals from being offended, shocked or insulted by their speech.
An ANU spokesperson further clarified for Woroni that all course convenors “set teaching materials and delivery methods for their courses.” They encourage students that have concerns about teaching with the relevant Associate Dean for Education in their academic college, their student representatives, or the Dean of Students.
Woroni spoke to Microeconomics 1 students who felt discomfort at the prospect of mandatory face-to-face lecture attendance since many students have part-time jobs which are scheduled during office hours.
A student told Woroni that they preferred online lecture recordings because the language was more accessible on recordings for a non-native English speaker, where the lecture can be played over and the speed can be controlled.
Given its introductory content, students taking Microeconomics I are often first-year university students. Woroni spoke to one such student who felt anxious if she couldn’t attend physical lectures and was afraid she would miss out significantly if she did. She admitted to prioritising attending lectures over other things, fearing that lecture recording will not be provided for future referral. Students also expressed the difficulties of attending face-to-face lectures regularly whilst acclimating to university life with various campus events.
This year, the ANU expects to complete a full transition into pre-pandemic modes of teaching. As of Semester One, the University only offers a limited number of courses remotely. With Covid restrictions lifting, remote courses will not be offered in semester two. Microeconomics 1 is delivered in-person.
The ANU justified this transition, saying, “being on campus allows students to maximise their learning experience”. This is in contrast to the many benefits of online education for working students, students with disabilities, and international students.
The ANU has confirmed that they do not consider the course convenor’s actions to be a breach of policy.
Professor Tourky did not respond before publication.
Concerned Microeconomics 1 students can reach out the CBE student representatives at email@example.com
If the contents of this article have disturbed you, please reach out to the following resources:
ANU Student Safety and Wellbeing
(02) 6125 2211
ANU Respectful Relationships Unit
Canberra Rape Crisis Centre, Crisis Line
(02) 6247 2525
(02) 6125 2442
1800 737 732
ANU Disabilities Students Association
ANU BIPOC Department
ANU Indigenous Department
ANU Women’s Department
ANU Queer* Department
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