Pine, in her fourth year of teaching at AU, continues to teach, Lepre said. Via e-mail, Pine declined requests for comment on Monday and Tuesday, referring questions to Lepre.
Pine’s essay, published on CounterPunch.org, summed up her view: “So here’s the story, internet: I fed my sick baby during feminist anthropology class without disrupting the lecture so as to not have to cancel the first day of class. I doubt anyone saw my nipple, because I’m pretty good at covering it. But if they did, they now know that I too, a university professor, like them, have nipples. Or at least that I have one.”
Jake Carias, 18, a sophomore from New York, said Tuesday that he was in Pine’s classroom the day she brought her daughter and that he was okay with the situation once the professor explained the circumstances.
“I wasn’t too distracted initially,” he said. “We’re college students, things go on all the time. Whatever. We’ll survive.”
But when Pine started to breast-feed mid-class, Carias said, it crossed a line.
“I found it unprofessional,” he said. “I was kind of appalled.”
Carias fired off a tweet: “midway through class breast feeding time.” He also posted a message on his Facebook page. He said he later dropped the class.
Now, the Northwest Washington campus is abuzz.
At the Tavern, a dining room just off the central quad, Jenna Wasserman, 18, a freshman from New Jersey, said she has heard two opinions from students: that breast-feeding “is very much natural,” and that doing so in class is “kind of unprofessional.” Wasserman said she leans toward the latter view. “There were alternatives,” she said.
Leyla de Avila, 18, a freshman from California who was sitting with Wasserman, said she sympathizes with the child-care emergency. “I understand she could bring her baby to class,” she said. “Just don’t breast-feed in class.”
But some faculty members said it is not unheard of for a professor to breast-feed in the classroom. Eileen Findlay, an associate professor of history, said she breast-fed her two children during AU research seminars after obtaining permission from students.
Findlay said Pine’s response to her parenting challenge provided a teachable moment.
“Why don’t we use this as an opportunity to have a discussion about how one can actually be an embodied person in a classroom?” Findlay said. She said the episode challenges the notion that faculty members “are ‘walking brains’ — that we don’t have lives and we don’t have bodies.”
At the office of the student newspaper Tuesday afternoon, Eagle editor in chief Zach C. Cohen praised the “utmost professionalism” of the reporter who spoke with Pine and declined to comment on the professor’s criticism of the paper. Asked whether the paper will publish a story on the matter, Cohen said, “We’re still deliberating.”