Student Sues School For Expulsion Over Facebook Photo

I wish my late parents could see the news of the lawsuit filed by a nursing student expelled because of Facebook photos showing her and three classmates holding a human placenta.

Back when my father, the late Dr. Cohen was in medical school, one of his classmates played a friendly joke on my mother. He gave her a bag and told her it contained cookies. She opened it and let out a shriek when she saw the contents: bones from a human cadaver. But no one took a photo of the stunt nor discussed it in a public forum that school officials could access. But I wonder whether they would have if Facebook were around back then.

In the present day situation, Facebook has added a wider audience to something that the nursing students surely weren’t the first to do — nor were my dad’s friends, for that matter: Create some comic relief from constant exposure to human cadavers and their organs.

Take a look at the tiny photo in question, reproduced from the Kansas City Star, which had broken the story, and you can barely even see the placenta. Without a caption or foreknowledge that 22-year-old Doyle Byrnes was holding a human organ, nothing in the image looks “unprofessional” like Johnson County Community College had implied.

Inside Higher Ed pointed out an important detail in this case: the instructor knew of the photo and didn’t object to it, but the administration had a different opinion. I wouldn’t be surprised if said pedagogue had engaged in some form of comic relief while in medical school. That would jibe with her reaction to the students taking the photo, as she said, “Oh, you girls.” She didn’t tell them not to do it nor mention any discipline.

I sincerely hope that the plaintiff and her expelled classmates score a victory on this lawsuit. A good sense of humor as a pre-med or nursing student can become a great bedside manner for a doctor or nurse — there’s a reason why that cliche calls laughter the best kind of medicine.

Readers, what do you think of this case and any legal precedent that might result?

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