While quarantined, we are all doing the best we can to keep up with our work and our schooling and all of our other responsibilities, but it's hard, and the powers that be need to understand that. One mom learned the hard way that not everyone is that understanding.
In a post on Reddit's "Am I the A-hole?" a woman explains that she's taking an online course for which she had to record a speech. "My newborn would not stop crying the entire time I tried filming the speech," she writes. So she picked up the baby and held her to her chest while she filmed.
She had no other choice. Her partner was at work, and she had to get the video in, so she did what she had to in order to film her speech. She writes, "The only way I could finish the filming was if I held my baby for the entire 10 minutes, or I'd have to hear her screaming in the background of my video. (And no, I could not have someone come over and help me out, for obvious reasons.)"
She was backed into a corner. And these are not normal times. If we weren't experiencing a global pandemic, perhaps she could have called a babysitter to come help her out while she completed her schoolwork. Maybe she could drop her baby off with a friend for an hour so she could film her presentation and get it in on time.
But we are experiencing a global pandemic. So she did what she had to do to complete her assignment. Because it was a speech class, her classmates had to comment on her use of body language and her presentation skills.
"All of the comments were saying that I was using my newborn for a better grade and that it was unfair to everyone else, how since I was holding her they wouldn't be able to properly critique my speech, stuff like that," she writes.
But the worst part of this is that her professor reacted the same way. "She told me that I wasn't being fair to my classmates and ended up giving me a zero on the assignment," she writes. She asked if she could record it again the next day when her partner was home and could take care of the baby, but at that point, it would be late, and the professor wouldn't allow it.
"She isn't giving me the option to redo my speech because I apparently 'took advantage' of having a newborn and tried to purposely use an advantage against my classmates to try and get a better grade," OP writes. How insane and absurd is this?!
I'm fuming. She had no other choice! She could have not tried to do the assignment at all because she had a screaming newborn baby to deal with. If I were her professor and she gave me that excuse, I would be like, "Oh my god, take your time, get it done literally whenever. If it's not possible, we'll work something else out."
The absolute nerve it takes to suggest that she was trying to get a better grade by holding her baby who wouldn't stop crying. OP even writes that all of her professors were aware that she was going to have a baby a few weeks ago. She let them all know her situation before the semester began.
The current situation is hard for everybody, let alone a brand new parent who is also trying to get through school. Luckily, Reddit commenters were not here for that professor's behavior.
"Professor of 20+ years here," one person wrote. "Strong NTA. Approach your university's equity and diversity person and file a formal complaint. There is no cause for a zero. This is about your right to reasonable accommodation in getting an education, not about their opinions.
"Ask your dept. head to see if someone else can grade this *and all other* assessments for this class this semester. ETA you are entitled to be a little behind, what with newborn of a few weeks and all. Good on you for staying the course in school!!!"
"NTA: Contact your department chair and if they don't respond, the dean. This is getting into discrimination territory which they do not want on record if you were to go to the local paper or anything that would generate publicity. Also mention it on the end of year evaluations if your prof doesn't have tenure," another person wrote.
The world already makes it so hard for mothers to pursue higher education and professional lives. We don't need professors on a class level to be that out-of-touch with reality that they are failing women who are doing everything they can to get their assignments in on time.
It also needs to be reiterated that we are in the midst of a global pandemic. Everyone is learning how to exist professionally online in real-time. Babies are crying on Zoom calls everywhere. Dogs are barking and people are walking in the background of classes and meetings and therapy sessions and friend hangouts. This is our new reality, and anyone who can't roll with it and accept it and allow for adjustments is out of their mind!