Sometimes there’s a fine line between appropriate and inappropriate. And sometimes, there’s a big, fat, neon yellow line that screams DO NOT FREAKING CROSS ME.
I’m gonna say that Edward Feldman crossed the latter line.
Apparently, Feldman, who is the chair of the Department of Medicine & Epidemiology at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, decided that he would ask he students to help him make a very private decision.
The decision in question was how he should grade a student who had recently given birth and was unable to attend a number of classes. Something that he decided needed the input of the entire school’s student body. He sent the survey to the class presidents to forward …
… to the rest of the students.
Here’s a copy of the survey from the Huffington Post:
Dear Colleagues,One of our classmates recently gave birth and will be out of class for an unknown period of time…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,
I’m really, extremely confused as to why this was at all necessary. The fact that this student had a child and is out of class is a personal matter to be dealt with in a personal way. Did this professor take into consideration that the student might not have wanted everyone to know her business? Or that she probably didn’t want the student body to decide how she should be graded? Or, that the automatic grade options are just ludicrous in general and there was no reason to send out a survey using them as options?
A university official who preferred to remain anonymous is quoted as having said that “within a professional school that has a very intensive and lock-step curriculum, there are many issues to consider in these circumstances.” That might be true, but that doesn’t mean that the professor should go to the entire third year class of the school and reveal a student’s personal circumstances. It seems unlikely that the school has never dealt with an extended absence before- there has to be some sort of protocol, don’t you think?
Whatever the case, this action was extremely inappropriate, and I hope that Mr. Feldman realizes this.