Some college professors just get it. Back when students were going to class in person, we loved the trend of profs allowing babies into the classroom. But not all higher ed instructors understand the struggles of parent-students. California college student Marcella Mares recently made headlines because she says her professor told her she was not allowed to breastfeed her child during class…even though the class was online.
Mares wrote about her experience with the Fresno City College instructor on Instagram and agreed to have Motherly amplify her story.
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After her professor said that he required students to have their cameras and microphones turned on during class time, Mares emailed him and explained that she may need to turn off her camera when nursing her daughter.
He replied to her, “That’s not what you should be doing during class. Do that on your own time.”
When Mares logged in to class later that afternoon, she said her professor addressed her email with the class—and not in a good way.
“The first thing he says to the whole class in our zoom meeting was, ‘I got this really weird email from a student stating she needed to do inappropriate things during lecture time. You guys need to understand that you have priorities now and you need to put all those distractions aside or be creative when your child needs you and give your full attention in my class.'”
Mares said his comments made her feel humiliated.
According to CNN, Mares reached out to her school’s Title IX coordinator. A few days later, the instructor emailed Mares an apology. “I am sorry for the inconvenience in regard to your intention of breastfeeding your baby,” he wrote in an email. “From now on, you have the right to breastfeed your baby at any given time during class, which includes doing group worksheet, listening to the lecture, and taking the quiz or exam. You may turn off your camera at any given time as needed.”
Fresno City College Public Information Officer Kathy Bonilla told CNN that “the instructor was not aware of the law pertaining to breastfeeding and now understands that his directive was not correct.”
Mares ended up dropping the class for unrelated reasons.
She says it’s important to support mothers trying to balance work, school, and parenting. “Breastfeeding mamas + any mama that is trying to juggle school, work + a child should be praised not put down + humiliated,” she wrote. “I love my baby + would choose her health over anything or anyone, any day of any week!”