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

It’s on: Rosslanders to go to the polls in April

Nomination period closed on Friday, three in running

Sexual assault stories from treeplanting camps ‘shocking but not surprising’

Contractors’ association is working with trainers to create respectful culture

Sweet way to raise money for furry friends in need

Fundraiser underway until March 1 at West Kootenay Animal Clinic

Trucking company fined $175K for Lemon Creek fuel spill

Decision handed down last Friday in Nelson court

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

B.C. mother, daughter return home after coronavirus quarantine in Asia

Jensine Morabito and her daughter were on Holland America’s Westerdam but did not catch the virus

Leap Year means we get an extra day in February, so how are you spending it?

People online have a number of suggestions and plans on how they will be spending Saturday

Greta sticker that drew outrage in Alberta not child pornography: RCMP

X-Site Energy Services has denied having anything to do with the stickers

Bald eagle hit by train in northern B.C. has a chance of survival

The raptor has been taken to OWL in the Lower Mainland for recovery

Cheslatta Carrier Nation and Rio Tinto sign a historic agreement

Co-operation crucial to stem dropping Nechako Reservoir level

Hundreds of B.C. firefighters ‘climb the wall’ for BC Lung Association

The charity fundraiser saw participants climbing up 48 storeys

Lawyer gets house arrest for possessing child porn

Maple Ridge resident gets nine-month term

Most Read