College journalists are always looking for the big story. So when Adrienne Pine, a militant medical anthropologist at the American University in Washington, D.C. opted to nurse her child in front of class, the buzz around campus caught the attention of the student newspaper (the Eagle).

An article by Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Education is an intriguing example of what happens when young journalists, a feminist instructor, and social media collide:

Adrienne Pine didn’t want student journalists at American University to write an article about how she had breast-fed her sick infant on the first day of classes this semester. And when she became concerned that The Eagle, the newspaper there, was going to proceed, the assistant professor of anthropology decided she should be the one to tell the story.

In e-mail messages and personal discussions with Pine, the student journalists at The Eagle told Pine that “[r]umors about the incident are already spreading through the student body,” and that there was an obligation to tell readers what happened. In her essay, Pine objected to calling breast-feeding an “incident” and said that publicizing her action would create a hostile workplace for her.

Shocked at how a class full of young students might be distracted from their lessons by a breast-feeding professor, Pine proceeded to write about the challenges of campus lactation. Pine notes that her on-line article has been well received. However, not all students are content with having the classroom converted to a nursery:

When students filled out their course evaluations, Wolf-Wendel said that several students commented on her “bravery” for breast-feeding in class, but several also expressed their discomfort.

The Eagle’s editor has not decided if he will proceed with the story:

Zach C. Cohen, editor in chief of The Eagle, said that the newspaper started looking into the first day of Pine’s course after hearing about the breast-feeding from students who were there. American’s campus is small enough, he said, that many people have been talking about the class. He said no decision has been made on whether the newspaper will run an article. “We’re collecting all of the facts, and we’ll make a decision once we have all the facts,” he said.

Hopefully, Cohen’s team will report on Pine’s actions. Students and parents, who pay tuition for focused instruction in distraction-free environments, have the right to be fully informed.