Mike the Mad Biologist

…getting an abortion. Because that seems to be the message from the presidents of the third-year class of the UC Davis veterinary school–with the apparent approval of the Chair of the Department of Medicine & Epidemiology. By way of ScienceBlogling Dr. Isis, the enlightened solons:

Dear Colleagues,

One of our classmates recently gave birth and will be out of class for an unknown period of time. This means she will undoubtedly miss one, or more, or all quizzes in VMD 444. 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 a voting will close no later than Wednesday. If you have other suggestions please email them to Dan or I ASAP. We will alert you to the opening of voting. Below are listed the options that Dr. Feldman has suggested. Please reserve comment on these options and provide us your opinion on them by voting when the time comes. Thank you for your understanding in this matter.

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)

Please let us know if you have other thoughts on how to handle this situation and please keep your eye out for the upcoming vote.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Your Presidents


Essentially, what these morons are arguing is that female vet students shouldn’t get pregnant. Given that no precaution works perfectly, this would leave women two options:

1) Don’t have sex. For four years. This would add new meaning to the phrase graduation party.

2) If you get pregnant, plan on having an abortion.

Regarding option #2, keep in mind, I once wrote a post titled “Abortion Is a Blessing”, so I’m not opposed to abortion. I am, however, vehemently opposed to coercion in either direction–that’s what pro-choice means. Coming up with a third option isn’t that hard. Because accountants have been able to figure this out, along with medical schools, and a host of other institutions.

Isis is absolutely correct when she writes:

Yet, despite his extensive teaching experience and awards, textbooks, and research publications, Dr. Feldman simply could not figure out how to deal with a the academic status of a pregnant student.

He also couldn’t figure out how to deal with it without being an asshole.

Shame on UC Davis.

Update: Dr. Isis posts the good response from the Chancellor of UC Davis.

Comments

  1. #1 Scott Free
    January 14, 2011

    Looks like an elaborate psych department experiment to me. What did the student recommend?

  2. #2 Lyle
    January 14, 2011

    A fact is that 85% of the students at the vet school are women. This is actually true of the entire profession of Vet Medicine in terms of entering students. See http://scienceblogs.com/isisthescientist/ for a much more detailed discussion of this issue.

  3. #3 justawriter
    January 14, 2011

    And this highly published asshole has never had a student miss a quiz because of illness, accident, a death in the family or any number of circumstances that come under the heading of “excused absences”? It seems the only difference is that this student knows she will be absent in advance. I can’t believe their is a university on earth that doesn’t have some sort of policy to deal with students who have a legitimate reason not to be in class.

  4. #4 Caudoviral
    January 14, 2011

    @justawriter: seconded, I will go one step further and say that I find it hard to believe that there is a university that doesn’t have specific guidelines concerning pregnancy. Professors do, and for the most part should, have a great deal of control over what goes on in their classroom. What they should not have is the ability to arbitrate over their students’ health.

    If the university doesn’t have a policy he is breaking by doing this, they should get one.

  5. #5 Michael Crichton
    January 14, 2011

    Why the heck would it even be the students place to make a decision like this? Shouldn’t the school have already had a policy in place? Besides, don’t most states legally require that absences due to pregnancy or childbirth be treated as any other medical absence would?

  6. #6 Silent Service
    January 14, 2011

    This smells like one of those made up chain e-mail things designed to evoke a response. If it isn’t, that asshole shouldn’t be teaching. But I somehow think we will learn that this is not but smoke and mirrors. At least I hope.

  7. #7 Katharine
    January 15, 2011

    I gotta be honest, and this got me shit on at Isis’s blog once:

    If you’re currently in undergrad or grad school, it is a really bad idea to get pregnant, and it is usually something one chooses to do.

  8. #8 Katharine
    January 15, 2011

    By ‘chooses to do’, I mean, one usually has a choice whether to get pregnant or not.

    And one always has a choice whether to abort.

  9. #9 Garrett
    January 15, 2011

    everyone knows that a pregnancy will cause problems if you’re in school. So why have a child then. I don’t think it was planned.

  10. #10 becca
    January 16, 2011

    For the record, for those at universities, it’s important to ASK your deans whether they are ordering the medical school physicians to refrain from providing pregnancy termination services. Your students may have a choice to abort, but they may not be able to do it with their physician, covered by their insurance, or practically obtain one within a 70 mile radius.

  11. #11 John
    February 3, 2011

    That’s dumb, Mike. You have a student ditch in the middle of the course, you give ‘em a no-credit grade. This is regardless of what their reason for ditching is, and it’s not a judgment, it’s just that you cannot get a grade because you weren’t in class. The professor’s going out of his way to not only provide a series of options, but seek other people’s feedback on which is the fairest. What would YOU have him do?

  12. #12 Malcolm
    March 25, 2011

    John, the problem is that the list of options that the professor gave does not include giving a grade of Incomplete, the logical and usual solution when someone misses class for medical reasons.