A California university professor could be in big trouble for asking his students how he should grade a fellow student who missed class to give birth.
Edward Feldman is the chairman of the medicine and epidemiology department at the veterinary college of the University of California-Davis. According to a report in Inside Higher Ed, he set up a poll in which he wanted his class to vote on what grade he should give the woman.
The poll was included in an email sent by the class presidents on Feldman's behalf. The presidents pointed out that the student had recently given birth, which means that she "will undoubtedly miss one, or more, or all quizzes" in a class. It went on:
Dr. Feldman is not sure how to handle this and has requested the class give input and vote. He has provided us with 6 options on which to vote and is open to any other ideas you may have. Most likely a CERE poll will be up next week and voting will close no later than Wednesday.
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The options included allowing the student to be "graded the same as everyone else," given a grade based on an average of her quiz scores or be allowed to take a single final exam.
A student reportedly leaked the email to a blog called On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess, a science blog that focuses on women's issues in academia.
In an email to Inside Higher Ed, school chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi said she was reviewing the accusations and promised "swift action."
"I take very seriously any allegations that a student's welfare, dignity or academic rights have in any way been compromised. And as a woman, who has experienced firsthand the challenges of melding academic and family life and has experienced discrimination, I am especially sensitive to this issue.
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"This alleged action, if found to be true, would present a serious deviation from the values and principles that guide our campus and our School of Veterinary Medicine."
Feldman told Inside Higher Ed he had no comment about the email. "I don't care what people say. It is between me, my students and my school."