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.