California college professor is forced to apologize to student, 23, after telling her not to Breastfeed Her Baby During Zoom Class.
Posted on November 24 2020
We’re all trying to adjust to these pandemic times. Even though we’ve technically been in some sort of “lockdown” for months, it still doesn’t feel normal. Going to school via Zoom is probably an adventure that will never feel completely normal.
But for new mom 23-year-old Marcella Mares, being able to take college courses online was a blessing. She enjoyed the fact that she could listen to the lecture and take notes while caring for her baby from home.
During this most recent semester, a professor of hers at Fresno City College told his students that they must keep their cameras and microphones on at all times, so he knows if they’re engaged or not. This meant they had to have them on for nearly four hours during his math instruction.
Mares emailed the professor to let him know she’ll need to briefly turn her camera off when she breastfeeds her soon-to-be 1-year-old daughter.
His response shocked her:
“He said, ‘You should not be doing that during class. Just do that on your own time or do it after class,’ For him to say something like that — it just got me really upset.”
And to make matters worse, the professor called her out during class the following day:
“During the Zoom meeting he said, ‘I had a really weird email from a student stating that she needed to do inappropriate things during class time,’ (He said), ‘You need to be creative with your children and accommodate them so you can pay attention to my lectures.’”
As you can imagine, Mares was furious. Not only did he call breastfeeding “inappropriate” he also brought her private email to light in front of the entire class. She emailed him again to ask him about the school’s rules against breastfeeding, and he replied back stating that he’s just following “the syllabus guidelines.”
Mares was humiliated, and at first she thought maybe she did something wrong, but after a little encouragement from her husband, she decided to contact the school about it. She contacted the school’s Title IX coordinator.
“Adaku Onyeka-Crawford, director of education and equity and senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, D.C., said that while most people associate Title IX with sports, the federal civil rights law also offers protection for pregnant and breastfeeding women in any school that receives federal funding.”
After reading the professor’s email, the coordinator contacted the professor, and he apologized to Mares a short time later.
“He ended up apologizing. He said, ‘I apologize for my remarks. ... You may now breastfeed your baby when you need to and you may turn off your camera and microphone when you need to.’”
All’s well that ends well, right? What do you think? Is there anything wrong with a new mother breastfeeding during a Zoom lecture?