By Sandy Ditty
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 29, 1997

Mammalogy students should take responsibility for their choices


I was outraged to read the accusations against Dr. Michael Nachman on Wednesday. I took Mammalogy last fall; my experiences and what I have heard from students taking it this year are in total opposition to these accusations.

I believe that the real issue that Jeremy and Ron are not taking responsibility for their actions. They were given the choice to participate. They were given explicit instructions on how to trap and handle animals safely. Masks were provided and handling animals barehanded was contrary to instructions. I also disagree with the statement that students didn't know which rodents were potential virus carriers. Students received instruction on the genus, Peromyscus, and identifying characteristics. I chose to trap, but not to handle those animals I thought might be of this genus. I also chose not to participate in another activity and my grade did not suffer. Dr. Nachman did everything possible to educate students to the risks involved, and took every precaution to ensure the safety of his students. It was the students' choice to participate. To disregard safety precautions was also a choice.

Dr. Nachman did not "trivialize" the risk of getting rabies from bats; the truth is that the chances of contracting it are indeed minuscule. I know many bat researchers, all very alive, who have been bitten countless times. Handling dead or sick bats is an entirely different issue, and unfortunately, a nationwide panic has resulted from the deaths of a few people stupid enough to engage in this behavior.

Dr. Nachman is one of the most inspiring and conscientious professors I have ever had. My opinion is shared by the many students I've heard speak highly and enthusiastically about him. He does not deserve to have his reputation unjustifiably tarnished because two student failed to take responsibility for their choices and don't have the facts straight about the real risk of certain diseases. They also insult Dr. Nachman's integrity by claiming anonymity for fear of retribution. Making serious, public accusations while hiding behind a false name is a cowardly, childish action. Jeremy and Ron are the ones who need to clean up their act. I hope I see an apology on the Wildcat front page in the very near future.

Sandy Ditty
Wildlife and fisheries science graduate student


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