Leaked e-mail goes viral


Message asks students to decide fate of pregnant student.

DAVIS, CALIF. — An e-mail meant for the students of one class at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine went viral on the Internet, prompting an inquiry by the university's chancellor.

The e-mail was sent out by third-year class presidents on behalf of Dr. Edward Feldman, professor and chair of the medicine and epidemiology department at the veterinary school, according to numerous blogs that published the message. The e-mail asks students in the class to weigh six options for handling a female student who would be missing an extended number of classes due to pregnancy complications. The options range from automatic A, B or C grades, to allowing the student to take one final exam to determine her grade.

The e-mail stirred up widespread criticism on the Internet, citing an insensitivity to women's issues especially given the fact that the university—and veterinary education as a whole—is now predominantly female.

Feldman could not be reached for comment, and veterinary school spokesperson Lynn Narlesky says the veterinary college has not taken any official position on the matter. But UC-Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi issued her own statement on the incident.

"I want to assure you that 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," Katehi says. "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, and I would be profoundly disappointed if the reported events did in fact transpire on this campus."

Katehi continues that she has asked the provost's office to conduct a thorough review of the situation, and that she expects "rapid attention and response" on the matter from that office. She says the university has a long history of accommodating pregnancy, childbirth and mothers of infants.

Narlesky says no findings have been released thus far by the provost's office.

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