by Mary Fischer
A mom of a 10-month-old baby girl is upset because she was not permitted to breastfeed during a college exam at Florida State College at Jacksonville.
Rebecca Mabrey is an online student, but she still had to go to the campus to take an exam -- and she was turned away at the door because she had her baby and a stroller in tow. The proctor of the test told her she could not have an infant in the classroom during the exam, because she might serve as a disruption to the other students.
That's when Rebecca showed the proctor a copy of Florida's Maternal and Infant Health Care law on breastfeeding -- but she was still told that she would not be permitted to sit for the test.
Take a look at this video clip to hear more about what happened, and why Rebecca made national news over the incident.
Ok, before I go any further, let me just say that this woman should be allowed to feed her baby whenever and wherever she needs to -- but I'm just not convinced that her intention to breastfeed the child is the real issue here.
I think the actual problem is that she showed up for a college exam -- with a baby, for crying out loud. (No pun intended.) And I'm sorry, but babies have no business being in a classroom of college students who are trying to concentrate on their exams -- something that could make or break their entire education based on how well they perform on them.
From the way Rebecca described what happened when she showed up at the exam, it sounds like she was actually turned away because of the baby -- not because she planned on breastfeeding the baby. And thinking back to my own college days, I know I would've been really, really distracted if there was a baby in the room while I was trying to focus on a major test. I guess it wouldn't have been so bad if the baby was sleeping -- but can you honestly imagine being able to concentrate if she started to fuss or cry?
And why did this mom bring the baby with her in the first place? I know she said her husband couldn't watch her that day -- but don't students typically know their exam dates well ahead of time? If she knew she did not have a sitter for her, she should've gone to her professor, explained her situation, and perhaps some sort of arrangement could've been worked out where she could have taken the test in another room or on another day.
I mean, you can't expect to just show up on exam day with a baby and assume you'll be accommodated. And even if the real reason the proctor turned her away was because she was opposed to her breastfeeding -- I can't say that I blame the school there either. For college kids who aren't used to seeing that sort of thing, it can prove very distracting, not to mention uncomfortable.
Yes, the school definitely should've made every attempt to accommodate Rebecca so she could finish the test and feed her child at the same time. But how were they supposed to figure out a situation that worked for everyone if they didn't know anything about it?
It sounds to me like she's making an issue out of something that really didn't have to be an issue -- had she only explained her situation ahead of time instead of showing up with her baby that day and expecting everything to go the way she'd hoped.
Do you think the college was wrong to deny her entry to the exam?
by AnonymousJune 25, 2013 at 9:28 AMYou don't distract like that. I mean you do not do it during a meeting either. Work has to provide a room and there are places for it. These are not it. People push the envelope. It is not acceptable everywhere and these nuts need to realize this.
First of all, let me applaud her for being persistent in her educational endeavors. That being said; this is another example of 'hooray for me, and the hell with you'.
This exam was not surprise. Part of life is finding solutions to obstacles. So she knew that she was going to have to sit for an exam with other students, she had time to bank some breast milk and find a sitter for a couple of hours. It seems to me that if she was prepared with a copy of the statute she was trying to make a statement. If she is enterprising enough to plan ahead and show off this statute, she had enough time to find a sitter. Lastly, I would be more understanding if we were talking about a newborn who would probably sleep through the test, but this was a 10 month old. They are beginning to verbalize, wiggle and are more than capable of getting away from you if you are not focusing. At home, in their own familiar surroundings it is easier to occupy them while you concentrate of another task, but in unfamiliar surroundings they are going to want to touch, taste and explore. This would definitely be distracting to other students who have a a justified expectation of an environment suitable for them to concentrate of their exam.
No she does NOT have my sympathy or support.
by AnonymousJune 25, 2013 at 10:22 AM
The problem wasn't with her breastfeeding. The problem was that the baby wasn't supposed to be there in the first place, whether she was breastfeeding or not. That's just common sense.
You don't take babies, children, your Mama, your boyfriend or the neighbor who drove you across town into the exam room with you. Depending on the situation, many final or comprehensive or "board certification" type exams are the "standardized" type and have some degree of "testing security" in place. Kind of like the SATs where they check your ID and your entry pass, there is an administrator and a proctor and strict testing protocal in place regarding bathroom breaks, leaving the room, etc.
by STVUstudentJune 25, 2013 at 12:33 PM
sorry- the argument holds no water... if the baby was with the baby father during the exam, she would not have been able to breastfeed the baby... she showed up with the baby because she did not arrange for child care... or her childcare bailed on her... and instead of talking to the professor, she made an issue out of it. If I were the professor or administrator, I would have turned her away as well... unless EVERYONE was allowed to bring their babies to school...