Class Invited To Vote On New Mom's Grade

A female student had to miss class at UC Davis's veterinary school in order to give birth. So her professor allowed the class to vote on her grade.

According to Inside Higher Ed, the student in question was taking a class with Dr. Edward C. Feldman, chair of the medicine and epidemiology departments at the veterinary school. When she missed class to give birth to her child, the class presidents sent the following email:

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

Dr. Feldman confirmed that the email was real, but wouldn't comment on why he thought it was a good idea to let the class vote on a student's grade after she was absent for a very legitimate reason. Isis of On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess shared this comment by an unnamed university official:

Thank you very much for your concerns. I certainly do not agree with the manner in which Dr. Feldman dealt with this issue, and can think of many other more suitable ways. However, the issue is much more complex than at first it seems for both the student and the faculty. Within a professional school that has a very intensive and lock-step curriculum, there are many issues to consider in these circumstances.

Isis said the comment "sounds to me an awful lot like, 'Sure he could have been more tactful about it but she did go and get herself knocked up. It's not our fault that she went and got pregnant. After all, we didn't put the bun in her oven. If she wanted to be a serious professional, she'd have been more careful. We have a rigorous program here with no room for reproduction from anyone but the farm animals.'"

Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed notes that Davis does actually have programs in place to help student mothers catch up — Feldman apparently just didn't take advantage of them. We'd like to put his, um, "solution" up to a vote.


How Not To Deal With A Student Mother [Inside Higher Ed]
Shameful Gender Discrimination At UC Davis Veterinary School [On Becoming A Domestic And Laboratory Goddess]

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