Thursday, January 13, 2011

Disgrace at UC's Veterinary School

You may have figured out from previous posts that referenced Jezebel that I'm a bit of a feminist. I shockingly think that, along with animals deserving decent lives, that people of any sex are equal--male, female, transgender, hermaphrodite--your genitalia do not affect your worth.

I also have a great deal of respect for veterinarians.I love mine and call whenever Toby has an issue. I firmly believe that before starting training for an issue, one should get a clean bill of health and talk about problems with your vet. I care about our vets and care that they are educated well and receive an accurate record of their performance at school so that their hiring decisions can be made more accurately.

How are these two related? Because I am completely outraged by what happened recently at UC Davies Vet School. Dr. Isis of Science Blogs covers it in full detail that you should read. I'll summarize it below.

Essentially, Dr Isis received an email that a third year student recently gave birth. One of her professors, Dr Feldman, (yes, male) had the class presidents send an email around about this. Not to collect gifts or well-wishes as the birth announcements at my small office do. No. So that students could vote on how Dr. Feldman should handle the woman's grade for the class.
"a) automatic A final grade
b) automatic B final grade
c) automatic C final grade
d) graded the same as everyone else: best 6 quiz scores out of a possible 7 quiz scores (each quiz only given only once in class with no repeats)
e) just take a % of quiz scores (for example: your classmate takes 4 quizzes, averages 9/10 points = 90% = A)
f) give that student a single final exam at the end of the quarter (however this option is only available to this one student, all others are graded on the best 6 quiz scores and the % that results)"

Despite that there were already clear options for him to follow laid out by UC Davies for students who might have to miss multiple classes (ok, for things like being sick, but are we really supposed to think that illness is ok but reproduction isn't? I know they're learning to encourage spaying/neutering but that's of pets, not people!). Also, the student in question hasn't even missed class or requested to miss class yet!

So--her professor, instead of sitting down with her to form a plan for if she misses class due to bringing life into this crazy, messed up world, decided to alert the entire third year class to her newborn (which seems awfully lacking in respect for privacy) and then decided to present those students (who are depending on being in the top percentile of their class and so have every self-interest in not helping a fellow student out) with the option of just arbitrarily deciding that this woman gets a C as her final grade?

I'm just completely appalled and angry. Really angry.

Dr. Isis is calling for people to contact the chancellor of UC Davies about Dr. Feldman's highly inappropriate conduct. The address for that is I already sent a note. I won't tell you how to act, but if you're as appalled as I am, please consider sending one as well.

It's 2011. How does a vaguely intelligent person even think this is ok and walk away without a reprimand from his higher ups? I told the chancellor that I hope for a full apology made to the student.


LuckyRaven said...

When I first read this article, I misread it and thought they were expecting absences because she was pregnant (still bad but then an absence or two may be expected) But that she had ALREADY given birth and was IN CLASS when the poll was taken???????? Appalling.

lora96 said...

Oh my. How wildly offensive that is!

I am incensed, nauseated, and utterly confounded at my inability to think of a reasonable comparison that might have to do with male reproduction. There isn't one!

btw your spaying and neutering comment made me laugh.

lora96 said...

PS i am hoping this creepily inappropriate prof just has a really dumbass sense of humor and that the e-mail itself was a douchbaggity attempt at a joke.

Bethany said...

@Lucky, I also had to reread Isis's post because I kept thinking I had to have missed something. Glad you agree with the appalling.

@Lora Glad you laughed, I was a little nervous it was a bit too far, but figured I had already cleaned out all the swear words, I could leave some inappropriate humor. I would love it if the situation had an explanation as positive as a horrible horrible joke.

Isis the Scientist said...

Thanks for the link Bethany, and for spreading to word to your readers. Thanks to the actions of people like you, it appears the chancellor has launched an investigation.

London Mabel said...

There's got to be a school policy against such a breach of privacy. That's totally insane and unprofessional and unethical and and and etc.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, the professor's actions reflect the high level of sexism which exists in academia even today -- especially in traditionally male occupations such as medicine, science and veterianary science. This professor was unusual in being open with it.

It's wrong and outrageous and I urge you all to continue to write the Chancellor -- and not forget!