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

Indigenous youth arrested during 15-hour occupation to hold press conference Wednesday morning

The speakers are expected to condemn police, RCMP actions towards Indigenous people

Southern resident orca L41 considered missing and feared dead

The orca was last spotted in Aug. 2019 when photographed in western Strait of Juan de Fuca

Sap thief taps Saanich park maple trees, faces hefty fine

One tree found with four taps in Mount Doug Park

VIDEO: Saanich family competes on first season of ‘Family Feud Canada’

Charania family will face off against the Torres family from Hamilton, Ont.

Victoria resident says WestJet employee uttered racist comment, refused to let her on plane

Customer claims she was told ‘You guys can’t handle your alcohol’ by WestJet employee

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Greater Victoria’s wanted list for the week of Jan. 28

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Are you concerned about the coronavirus?

The coronavirus which has sparked concern around the globe has now arrived… Continue reading

Off-duty Nanaimo Mountie takes down would-be ice cream thief

Suspect attempted to steal Dilly Bars from Dairy Queen location on Sunday

Nanaimo man hit with pole in dispute over off-leash dog

RCMP say no charges recommended at this time

Was there a tornado on Vancouver Island Monday?

Suspected phone app glitch gives eerie warning

Work has started on Malahat Skywalk, expected completion in 2021

$15-million project expected to open in spring, 2021

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Sooke Minor Fastball to host coaching clinic

Clinic ideal for those planning to coach U6 to U18 teams

Most Read