Washington, DC — American University Anthropology Professor Adrienne Pine, a single mother, stirred up a controversy when she breastfed her ill baby in front of the class on the first day of school.
The baby was sick with a fever, and apparently Pine was unable to find anyone to watch the child while she went to work. So, according to the Washington Post, “When the baby grew restless, Pine breast-fed her while continuing her lecture in front of 40 students.” The incident subsequently found its way into the student newspaper.
University officials weren’t necessarily enamored of Pine’s multitasking during her “Sex, Gender, and Culture” course. In a statement, the university “emphasized that faculty members should take advantage of options such as sick leave, break times and private areas for nursing mothers to express milk so they can ‘maintain a focus on professional responsibilities in the classroom,'” the Post reported. The university’s stated concern was about the health of the child and any students who might exposed to illness.
Students apparently had mixed feeling about whether breastfeeding should occur in the classroom.
In her blog, however, Prof. Pine wrote that “I was shocked and annoyed that this would be considered newsworthy,” and charged that the previously family-friendly university had now become a “hostile environment,” which is a legal term that might be precursor to a lawsuit.
American University has no policy about breastfeeding but like all employers follows applicable laws that allow nursing mothers to take breaks and have private areas to pump breast milk.
Watch a report from the Washington, DC, Fox affiliate about the Adrienne Pine breastfeeding controversy:
Do you think Prof. Adrienne Pine did the right thing?