FILE - This Aug. 31, 2017, file photo, shows a sign for Middlebury College on the campus in Middlebury, Vt. A Middlebury College chemistry professor whose written exam question asked students to calculate the lethal dose of a poisonous gas used in Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust has taken a leave of absence, the school said. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring, File)

U.S. chem professor on leave after Nazi gas chamber exam question

The gas chamber exam question came to light in the student-run satirical newspaper, The Local Noodle

A chemistry professor whose exam question asked students to calculate the lethal dose of a poisonous gas used in Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust has taken a leave of absence, Middlebury College said.

The Vermont liberal arts college said that it’s investigating under the terms of its faculty misconduct policy.

“This inexplicable failure of judgment trivializes one of the most horrific events in world history, violates core institutional values, and simply has no place on our campus,” wrote Middlebury President Laurie Patton last week. “We expect our faculty to teach and lead with thoughtfulness, good judgment, and maturity. To say we have fallen short in this instance is an understatement.”

READ MORE: Landlord of alleged Okanagan shooter recounts deadly day

A review of past exams given by professor Jeff Byers found a second objectionable question making reference to the Ku Klux Klan in an exam given last year. The question appeared to have a humorous intent, but “was gratuitous and offensive,” the school said.

Byers apologized to the college community in an April 10 written statement on the school’s website. He said he gave two exams in the last year that included questions “that were clearly offensive, hurtful, and injurious to our students.”

“I can offer no explanation for my actions other than carelessness and hubris,” he wrote.

The gas chamber exam question came to light in the student-run satirical newspaper, The Local Noodle , according to the student-run newspaper, The Middlebury Campus.

The school’s Community Bias Response Team, which is charged with assessing and responding to bias incidents, sent out a campuswide email criticizing both the exam question and The Local Noodle for making light of it, The Middlebury Campus reported.

An email sent to a Jewish student group and local Jewish congregation seeking comment was not immediately returned.

READ MORE: Two students face multiple charges in threats against Ontario school

On Thursday, Patton, the college president, said in a campuswide email that the college has experienced several incidents of bias in recent weeks “that are causing pain and anger in our community,” but did not specify what those were. She was following up on the school’s decision Wednesday to cancel a lecture by conservative Polish politician Ryszard Legutko because of safety concerns, two years after the school was the site of a rowdy protest of another conservative speaker.

Lisa Rathke, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

New, feature-length documentary on missing woman Emma Fillipoff comes out next year

The film follows Fillipoff’s disappearance and the ongoing investigation

Saanich School District parents welcome end of strike

Various sides of support worker strike acknowledge remaining tensions

Harbour authority to honour Victoria sailor Jeanne Socrates with naming ceremony

In September Socrates became the oldest person to sail around the world in a solo, unassisted trip

Victoria Police Department seeks provincial budget review for second year in a row

VicPD hopes to see four more staff positions after request was denied in the 2019 budget

VIDEO: The sticky truth about winter moths and how Greater Victoria arborists fight them

Winter moths have ‘killed a lot of trees’ across the region, says Oak Bay arborist

B.C. pushes for greater industry ‘transparency’ in gasoline pricing

Legislation responds to fuel price gap of up to 13 cents

UPDATED: Vancouver Island’s Joe gets suspended sentence in Teddy the dog cruelty case

Melissa Tooshley expected in court on Thursday in same case

Midget no more: Sweeping division name changes coming to minor hockey in Canada

Alpha-numeric division names will be used for the 2020-2021 season and beyond

Canadian universities encourage exchange students in Hong Kong to head home

UBC said 11 of its 32 students completing programs in Hong Kong have already left

EDITORIAL: It’s time to face the truth on drug use

The homeless don’t own the drug epidemic

Nineteen boats carrying invasive mussels stopped at B.C. borders

Waters of Columbia-Shuswap still test mussel-free

Woman ‘horrified’ after being told to trek 200 kilometres home from Kamloops hospital

‘I can’t get from Kamloops back to 100 Mile House injured, confused… no shoes, no clothes whatsoever’

Most Read