CSE Professor Publicly Humiliates Student on Class Forum

Photo of CSE Building courtesy of The Triton.

A UC San Diego Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) professor is receiving backlash for humiliating a student and releasing the student’s private information on a public question-and-answer forum this past weekend.

Rundong Zhong, an international student and Math/CS major, posted a question on Piazza, a commonly-used forum that allows classmates and professors to address questions students may have. Zhong asked if he could put “funny stuff” on a website project for the class.

In response, CSE Professor Susan Marx said that she would reprimand the tutor who approved of Zhong’s cat homepage idea. She also publicly revealed his academic status and devalued the community college he previously attended.

A screenshot of Zhong's homepage assignment.

A screenshot of Zhong’s homepage assignment.

According to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), “schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student’s education record.”

Due to the incident being under investigation, Professor Marx was unable to comment at length; however, she told The Triton in an email, “The public posting of this information was inadvertent and I am deeply sorry.”

Piazza screenshot of Professor Marx's interaction with student taken from Reddit.

Piazza screenshot of Professor Marx’s interaction with student taken from Reddit.

In response to the event, students are calling on others to report Professor Marx to the Office for the Prevention of Discrimination and Harassment (OPHD), or to UCSD FERPA Compliance Officer Cindy Lyons.

After the incident gained traction on Reddit and Twitter, several students expressed concerns regarding Professor Marx’s teaching style and professionalism.

https://twitter.com/garrettslauson/status/1006246363934281728?s=21

A program created by a student in support of Zhong summarizes the incident while referencing UCSD’s Principles of Community. It suggests to other UCSD students that they include cat pictures on their personal websites as a form of protest against Professor Marx’s actions.

When asked about the incident, Zhong was more concerned about other students and the possibility of the same thing happening to them.

“Every professor has the power to look through [a] student’s private information…every student in UCSD [could potentially] get private information leaked,” said Zhong. “What we should really do is figure out who gave professors the power to look through student academic information and why.”

Zhong hopes that his story inspires other students who were also shamed by Marx to speak up for themselves.

Matthew Rom-Toribio is an Assistant News Editor at The Triton. You can follow him @MT2o.

  • Vector Flux

    Imagine being her tutor and having her say publicly to all students and course staff that she’d “reprimand the tutor” who approved of a cat pic.

  • Vector Flux

    This seriously sucks for the student. In addition, notice how comfortably she’d say in a public arena she’d “reprimand” a tutor for approving a cat pic. It’s funny because she cites “ethics” but it’s a question whether she understands it. These are the reasons why common sense has to be written into regulatory law.

  • Scott

    “The public posting of this information was inadvertent and I am deeply sorry.”
    She doesn’t even apologize for what she said about their standing and old school? Just the fact that she posted it online?