An American University professor is speaking out over the headlines being generated after she brought her sick baby to the first day of one of her classes and breast-fed her daughter in front of 40 students.
Adrienne Pine is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology and she spoke with FOX 5 Wednesday.
"I was not trying to make a point," Pine said. "I was merely trying to feed a hungry baby the best way I knew how and the way that satisfied her the most."
In an online blog, Pine wrote: "So here's the story, internet: I fed my sick baby during feminist anthropology class without disrupting the lecture so as to not have to cancel the first day of class. I doubt anyone saw my nipple, because I'm pretty good at covering it. But if they did, they now know that I too, a university professor, like them, have nipples. Or at least that I have one."
FOX 5 spoke with Dr. Phyllis Peres, American University's Dean of Academic Affairs, on Tuesday and she told us that the university does not have an explicit policy about breastfeeding in the classroom.
When we asked if Pine did something wrong, Dr. Peres said, "I think there were a series of choices that were made and one has to walk back and look at those choices. For example, the question of bringing a child to class, and in this case specifically, a sick child."
Dr. Peres says the incident has sparked a discussion and the university will examine its policies.
As for whether Pine will be disciplined for her actions, Dr. Peres said it was a personnel matter and she could not discuss it.
American University's Statement Regarding Faculty Member's Post on Breast-Feeding Baby in Class:
AU supports faculty and staff as they face challenges of work life balance. The university follows federal and DC laws for nursing mothers, and provides for leave in the case of a sick child. In accordance with the law, AU provides for reasonable break times and a private area to express milk for a nursing child for up to one year from the child's birth.
[This follows directly from federal law -- the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 Section 4207, which requires employers to (1) provide a "reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for up to 1 year after the child's birth each time she has a need to express the milk and (2) provide a place shielded from view and from intrusion by coworkers and the public, other than a restroom, where mothers can express milk.]
AU does not have a policy that specifically addresses breast-feeding.
We're guided by federal and DC law, which do not prohibit or allow breast-feeding in certain environments. Instead, in accordance with those laws, we provide nursing mothers with frequent breaks and a private place to express milk, so that the baby continues to be nourished from breast milk when the mother returns to work.
AU does have a policy that provides leave when a child is sick.
Every working parent can empathize with facing the choice of an important day at work when a child gets sick. Both demand your focus and attention. There is no easy or ideal alternative. AU strives to create a work environment that helps faculty and staff balance their work and personal lives. AU's Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Policy provides the opportunity to take paid leave to care for the sick child and protect the health of the community.
AU does not agree with Counterpunch blog post
The views expressed in the blog were those of the faculty member. The university cannot agree with the characterization of AU students in the blog post. In addition, at the request of the administration, the professor immediately removed the students' personal contact information from the post. Freedom of expression comes with responsibility, and expressions in for a outside of AU have the potential to affect the educational relationship between faculty and students and effectiveness in the classroom.
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