The mother of a 10-month-old baby girl is speaking out after a college instructor shamed her for breastfeeding during a Zoom class
Marcella Mares is currently attending Fresno City College virtually, due to the coronavirus pandemic. On September 23, she received an email from one of her instructors regarding a new class rule that required students to have their cameras and microphones turned on at all times during class for attendance purposes.
In response, Mares told her instructor that she had no problem with having her camera and microphone on—but noted that she may need to turn it off from time to time to breastfeed her daughter.
She was shocked at the response she received.
“I am glad to hear that you can have your camera and microphone on, but please do not breastfeed your daughter during class time because it is not what you should be doing,” replied her instructor. “Just do that after class.”
To make matters worse, Mares’ instructor made an example out of her in front of the entire class, by telling them that he got this “really weird email from a student stating she needed to do inappropriate things during lecture time.” He added that the class needs to “understand that you have priorities now”—which is rich, to be telling a new mother—and that they should “put all those distractions aside, or be creative when your child needs you” so he has their entire attention.
Mares was so upset, she aired out her grievances in a public Facebook post, which quickly went viral.
“I was upset about it,” Mares later told CNN. “I didn’t like the feeling of him telling me what I can and can’t do with my baby, especially in my own home because school is online right now.” She added that the instructor putting her on blast made her even more upset because she felt he had “publicly outed [her] in front of the class.”
Mares reached out to the school’s Dean of Instruction, Lorraine Smith, to complain about the way she was treated. A few days later, she received an apology from the instructor.
“I am sorry for the inconvenience in regard to your intention of breastfeeding your baby,” read the email. “From now on, you have the right to breastfeed your baby at any given time during class, which includes doing group worksheets, listening to the lecture, and taking the quiz or exam. You may turn off your camera at any given time as needed.”
Mares eventually dropped the class for unrelated reasons, but she says she wished the school would have taken the issue more seriously. She added that she hasn’t experienced issues with any of her other instructors, who have all been supportive of a new mother going back to school.