Disturbing behavior

UC Davis Prof Steps Down from Chair-ship over his own misogynist treatment of grad students:

A while back

...a department chair in the veterinary school at the University of California at Davis had polled a class on what grade he should give to a student who had to miss some quizzes because she had given birth.

This week,

... the university released a statement from Edward Feldman, chair of the medicine and epidemiology department, in which he apologized for the incident in his class, and said that he was complying with the university's request to step down as chair.


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I don't really get why polling the class is so out-of-line? A few of the options are not acceptable, but he just seemed to be looking for the opinions of the students on the issue. Appears to be more of a "teaching moment" than misogynist treatment. If a substantial part of the class had voted for an unacceptable option, then the prof could have been intending to explain to them why that was the wrong answer. (Who knows his intent though... that would take mind reading.)

It is also highly probable that there were more females than males in that class. That is the normal state of affairs in the department (yes, even for grad level courses).

I can see stepping down as department chair... did he even really want to be chair? The black mark on his reputation is the real punishment. And I'm not convinced by what I've seen that it is actually deserved.

BTW: My wife, who happens to be pregnant, works for that department. The PI of her lab is the only male in the lab.

travc, the main problem that is easiest to be pretty sure is relevant here is simply this: A professor can't talk about a student's problems, grades, or other issues with any other student. It is not even OK if everyone in the class (including the student being talked about) is in on it and agreeable.

Despite what has been said on some other blog I won't mention, everyone on every faculty at every institution in the US has been exposed to and is required to undergo some kind of informational or training program that outlines these rules. For most, I'm sure, this is accessed by a link in an email ignored.

As far as the misogyny angle, I don't remember enough of the original situation to state the argument. However, probably has something to do with the fact that the problem being discussed is one specific to women.

tavc, the main problem that is easiest to be pretty sure is relevant here is simply this: A professor can't talk about a student's problems, grades, or other issues with any other student

Totally. And it's perfectly ok to float the notion of docking a student's grades when they miss quizzes because they had other things they'd rather be doing than showing up to class, such as - for instance - pumping out a sprog. I mean - would that be acceptable in the army? Or on a construction site? "Hoist the crane, Ms Crane Driver!" "Damn - she's decided to go up and give birth today. Of all the inconsideration!" You can see where this all leads.

By paulmurray (not verified) on 17 May 2011 #permalink