Students Expelled For Facebook Picture Of Placenta

There has been a lot of controversy around pictures of breastfeeding on facebook. Now there’s a big to-do over placenta pics. Though the problem this time has nothing to do with indecency but rather a question of professional conduct.

Four Kansas nursing students snapped a picture of themselves posing next to a placenta during class. One of them, Doyle Barnes, posted it on facebook. The next day all four students were expelled

Byrnes, set to graduate this spring, filed a complaint with U.S. District Court to be allowed to resume classes this semester. She acknowledges she had a “momentary lapse in judgment,” and apologized.

The picture was only up on facebook for a few hours before their instructor asked her to remove it, which Byrnes did.

The students claim the instructor hadn’t directly told them not to take the picture. Apparently, the professor said, “Oh, you girls” when one of them proposed taking the picture and sharing it on facebook. They were not directly told not to post the picture.

“Your demeanor and lack of professional behavior surrounding this event was considered a disruption to the learning environment and did not exemplify the professional behavior that we expect in the nursing program,” wrote Jeanne Walsh, director of nursing at the college, in a letter to Byrnes. Apparently the students will be considered for re-entry into the program in the fall.

Byrnes’ lawyer describes the girls as “mature, I would say serious, professionals. I’ve interviewed the other women. They all impress me as serious, career-minded women who are utterly stunned at what’s happened to them.”

Jeesh. I don’t know what to say. This all seems a bit harsh to me but I don’t know enough about the photography and distribution of images of anonymous human organs by medical students to comment on the expulsion. I do understand a fascination with a placenta, however.

It’s the only disposable organ. It’s the only organ that is shared by two people. There are lots of ways the placenta has been celebrated by various cultures over the years. It’s crazy to look at, too– it’s quite large, crammed with meshes of veins and held together by a thin, clear membrane. After I gave birth I took a picture of the placenta in the bucket. How strange, I remember thinking.  I can see how looking at such a thing might prompt giggles and sneers, but hey, it’s what kept you alive once upon a time.

photo: Nomadic Entrepreneur/flickr

Article Posted 6 years Ago

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