Edward Feldman, chair of the Department of Medicine and Epidemiology at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, has stepped down from his leadership role following an investigation of a classroom incident.
Earlier in the semester a student in his class informed him that she would have to miss a few weeks because she was giving birth. In response, Feldman asked his assistants to send a message to all the students in the class asking them to complete a poll about how he should determine the grade of their pregnant classmate.
Feldman admits his insensitivity and has accepted the demotion. Admittedly, he may have been unsure how to respond to the student’s request, but rather than consulting his colleagues or administrators, he polled her peers. I wonder if he would have done the same if the absence had been for chemotherapy. It seems that pregnancy is treated differently. As long as women increasingly fill the ranks of students and faculty, universities will have to make accommodations for childbirth.