A sociology professor at Northern Michigan University has purportedly offered her students extra credit for taking part in a local Occupy protest.
According to an email obtained by The Blaze, Professor Jeanne Lorentzen is offering students in her introductory sociology course 20 extra credit points if they attend an Occupy the Upper Peninsula demonstration with her on Saturday. Students who do not wish to attend the protest have the option of writing a 20-page term paper about a social movement to receive the same extra credit. Neither assignment is compulsory.
The email says students who choose to attend must make a protest sign that can say anything as long as it’s not “offensive, rude or divisive.” To qualify for the extra credit, students must sign an attendance sheet twice, at the beginning and end of the march.
Lorentzen did not return multiple phone call and email requests for comment to confirm the extra credit offer, but a Facebook profile for “Jeanne M. Lorentzen, prof @ NMU” is filled with pro-Occupy Wall Street articles, photos and postings. She “likes” both the pages for “Occupy the UP” and “Occupy the UP: NMU Students and Faculty.”
On Thursday, she posted a MoveOn.org petition asking New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg not to evict the Occupy Wall Street protesters with the comment, “Please sign the petition!” An earlier post notes “Occupy Marquette is happening this Saturday.”
The full text of the email is reproduced below:
Subject: SO101JL04: Extra Credit Option
From: “Jeanne Lorentzen”
Date: Thu, October 13, 2011 3:01 pm
To:SO101JL04 -> Forums -> Announcements -> Extra Credit Option
Extra Credit Option
by Jeanne Lorentzen – Thursday, 13 October 2011, 01:52 PM
Extra Credit Possibility
This assignment requires you to become involved in a social movement. Because activities associated with social movements are limited in the Marquette area, students in SO101 typically engage in a group exercise during class in which they construct a social movement. However, the Occupy Social Movement (specifically Occupy the U.P.) is a once in a lifetime opportunity for students to experience involvement in a social movement first hand. The Occupy Movement is not aligned with any particular political party as it focuses on a multitude of social inequalities a topic we’ve been studying for the last week, and which we will continue to study (Global Stratification) for the next week. The ideas we’ve been addressing in class are also ideas that the Occupy Movement defines as important social ideas. The movement has not defined how these problems should be addressed but is, instead, attempting to make the problems public issues.
In order to earn 20 extra credit points students must participate in the march that is planned for Saturday, October 15th. The march starts at 10 a.m., but students who choose to do this assignment should meet me in Harlow Park, right next to Washington St., by at least 9:45 a.m. Students must make a protest sign (as long as it’s not offensive, rude or divisive you can write anything) and sign an attendance sheet twice, once at 9:45 a.m. and once after the march is over.
The organizers have been working with the Marquette Police, who were very supportive and helpful, in order to insure a safe and non-violent march. Those students who choose not to participate in the Occupy the U.P. march on Saturday may instead choose to write a 20 page term paper on a particular social movement and earn 20 extra credit points. You may choose to one or the other, but not both. You may also choose to do neither option.
The term paper must be double spaced, written in Ariel 11 point font, with 1 inch margins on all 4 sides. The paper should be a critical sociological analysis of a particular social movement and must include at least 5 substantive concepts from the course text. The paper will be due October 30th by 11 p.m., and must be submitted via EduCat.
University spokeswoman Kristi Evans said she had not heard about the assignment and though she couldn’t confirm it, saw no reason to think it would not be a real offer.
From the school’s perspective, Evans said there was nothing wrong with the assignment because students aren’t specifically required to attend, and have an alternative assignment they can do instead.
“The university doesn’t oversee what professors assign for extra credit,” she said, noting that as long as it doesn’t involve an “immoral or unethical” activity the school does not have reason to step in. NMU is a public university.
Dan Adamini, chair of the Marquette County Republican Party, said the assignment seemed very one-sided. He said he hoped that if extra credit is being given for attending Occupy U.P., students could get the same extra credit for attending a different demonstration they deemed “more sensible.”
“Whatever the topic is, I hope if you’re going to give extra credit for something like this, fairness would dictate you give extra credit for something on the other side,” he said.
Adamini disputed Lorentzen’s statement that “activities associated with social movements are limited in the Marquette area,” saying Marquette reguarly has marches and demonstrations for gay rights, abortion, union rights, the environment and the Tea Party movement.
“She’s choosing this one versus something might be conservative in nature,” he said.
He also dismissed the offer of a 20-page term paper for students who didn’t want to demonstrate, saying, “I’m not sure that’s the equivalent of taking a Saturday morning and taking a walk.”