Breastfeeding Professor Ignites Debate at American University

Adrienne Pine, an assistant professor of anthropology at American University in Washington, D.C., is a single mother. When her baby awoke with a fever one morning last month, she decided the best course of action would be to bring her baby with her when she taught the first session of the course “Sex, Gender, and Culture.” The baby crawled on the floor and at times was held by a teaching assistant. When the baby began to cry, Professor Pine breastfed the child in front of 40 students while she continued to lecture.

The university issued a statement voicing their concern about bringing a sick baby to class and calling for faculty to “maintain a focus on professional responsibilities in the classroom.” Several students objected to Professor Pine bringing her baby to class. The professor was offended that the student newspaper on campus considered the incident newsworthy and told her story on an online post at Counterpunch.

Professor Pine is a graduate of Brown University. She holds two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley. She is the author of Working Hard, Drinking Hard: On Violence and Survival in Honduras (University of California Press, 2008).

We invite readers to read Professor Pine’s blog post and offer their comments below.

Filed Under: FacultyNews


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  1. Dr. Carlos Minor says:

    As a fellow college professor, I will not attack another member of the academy. I can see both points of view, however. Perhaps Dr. Pine had no sitter and had no choice but to come to work. Perhaps her students found the baby to be a distraction. I don’t see a right or a wrong side to this issue, just individual opinions.

  2. Marva Nelson says:

    I have been placed in the predicament of bringing an infant to work before. I didn’t breastfeed the child, but I do think it was within the professor’s rights to do so. I could empathize if there was no other recourse for the prof, but that doesn’t quite seem to be the case.

    She needed to do this away from her students. One could make the case that the TA may have felt exploited as well. Why not make this a teachable moment and allow the TA to take over?

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