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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ranil Prasad saw this poster near Surrey Central SkyTrain station on Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. He said it expressed “some specific reference to white replacement theory.” (Photo: Ranil Prasad/@run_neil/Twitter)
Surrey man urges public to watch out for ‘white replacement theory’ posters

Ranil Prasad said he saw the messaging at a Surrey SkyTrain station

Washington State Department of Agriculture workers, wearing protective suits and working vacuumed a nest of Asian giant hornets from a tree Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday morning to protect native honeybees. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Nest of ‘murder hornets’ found near South Surrey

String of traps set up along border to capture Asian giant hornets

Construction of Douglas College's Surrey Campus in 1970. (Photo: Douglas College Archives)
PHOTOS: Douglas College’s Surrey roots at a B.C.-first campus in 1970

The official date of the Douglas/Kwantlen split was April 1, 1981

B.C.’s parliament building, Victoria. (Photo: Tom Fletcher)
ZYTARUK: Votes come at a premium price. Time to pay the tab

Promises are rained upon the voting public much like confetti being blasted from the maw of a cannon, or particles of ash spewn from an erupting volcano

B.C.’s Court of Appeal is in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Judgment reserved in Surrey Six slayings appeals

Six men were killed in suite 1505 of the Balmoral Tower in Whalley on Oct. 19, 2007

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

It’s been eight years since Gordon Spencer (pictured), and cousin, ‘Lil’ Bruce Mayo, were gunned down in a home in Langley, and Spencer’s widow is hoping someone who knows something will step up (file)
Eight years on and still no answers in Langley double murder

Wife of victim makes public appeal for people with information to come forward

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Langley resident Shaun Nugent, who died in 2019 shortly after he saved a swimmer from drowning, has been awarded a posthumous medal for bravery by the Royal Canadian Humane Association (Courtesy Nugent family)
Langley man who died after saving swimmer receives posthumous medal for bravery

Shaun Nugent rescued woman from Hayward Lake near Mission in July of 2019

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Most Read