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Animal Dissection Policy

Practical experience with structure and function in animals is an essential component of a biology education. This experience may include the use of living or preserved animals in some laboratory exercises and may require animal dissection. Majors/minors in biology who object to these practices based on ethical, moral, or religious grounds need to discuss their objections with the department chairperson. A student with proper advisement from their biology adviser can select a rigorous and rewarding set of biology courses that are consistent with the student’s moral, ethical, or religious beliefs. Only two required courses in the major/minor sacrifice animals or perform animal dissection (i.e., BIO 11 and 12). For these specific courses, (BIO 11 and 12) accommodations will be made (see below for details) for students whose beliefs prevent them from directly participating in animal euthanasia and dissection. Students must inform the course instructor within the first week of class of their concerns/objections and submit to the chairperson of the Biology Department written documentation that substantiates their objections.

For students taking Bio 11:

  • A student who has a moral, ethical, or religious objection does not have to sacrifice any flies (or any other animal), but must participate in the lab exercise.
  • In the lab exams, students are not asked to sacrifice flies (or any other animal), however, they may be asked to do an experimental procedure (i.e. reading a spectrophotometer or pipetting specific solutions) using homogenates of fly (or other animal) proteins or genes.
  • While students are encouraged to do so well in advance of the course, they must inform the course instructor within the first week of class of their concerns/objections. Students will have until the end of the first week of the semester to submit to the Chair of the department an essay that clearly outlines what their objection is to dissection and the justification for that objection. The Chair, in turn, will notify the instructor that the students have chosen to pursue the alternatives to dissection provided by the course.

For students taking BIO 12:

  • A student who has a moral, ethical, or religious objection will no longer be required to perform dissection.
  • Students will no longer be required to observe the initial incisions made on the dissected animal.
  • There will be no penalty (loss of grade) if a student does not dissect, but participates in the lab in other ways. Students work in pairs or small groups, some students dissect, other photograph the specimen, others take notes and record data. How a student participates will be collectively negotiated among students assigned to a particular group.
  • Students may bring models, photos, illustrations, and computer simulations into labs to enhance both the individual and group learning experience. It is the student’s responsibility to locate these resources and to bring the necessary hardware for their utilization (e.g., laptops). Under no circumstances are these materials to be used in ways that substitute for or interfere with interaction with the group.
  • Consistent with present practices, exams are unlikely to contain questions pertaining to the technique of dissection.
  • While students are encouraged to do so well in advance of the course, they must inform the course instructor within the first week of class of their concerns/objections. Students will have until the end of the first week of the semester to submit to the Chair of the department an essay that clearly outlines what their objection is to dissection and the justification for that objection. The Chair, in turn, will notify the instructor that the students have chosen to pursue the alternatives to dissection provided by the course.