Severed heads can be seen in the background of a selfie taken by graduate dental students and a top University of Connecticut orthodontics professor, according to the Associated Press (AP).
Dr. Flavio Uribe, an assistant professor and program and clinic director of the orthodontics program at UConn Health and a visiting professor from the Yale School of Medicine can be seen in the photo. The selfie was taken in June 2017, according to the AP.
“Uribe and several graduate students are looking at the camera, while others continued to work,” the AP reported. “All are wearing surgical masks. Two severed heads are on the tables, face up.”
Denise Calzadilla, a second-semester biological science major on the pre-dental track, said she questioned the professionalism of the graduate students in the selfie.
“(During high school dissections) you had to respect the animals. Everything you did had to have a scientific purpose,” Calzadilla said. “If you’re expected to have this level of professionalism in high school, you should have absolutely mastered it by grad school.”
The photo, obtained by the AP from a person who received it in a private group chat, has not been released to keep the students anonymous and avoid potential harm to their careers. The student who took the selfie refused to give the AP permission to publish it out of fear of expulsion, according to the AP.
Since the time the selfie was taken and released, UConn Health has handled the situation internally, Christopher Hyers, UConn Health’s chief communication officer, told the AP.
“UConn Health was made aware of the matter at the time it happened and took appropriate internal steps,” Hyers said in a statement to the Associated Press.
Calzadilla said she believes handling the punishment internally was a good decision on UConn Health’s part.
“I doubt they’ll make the mistake again,” Calzadilla said. “Grad students have worked hard to get where they are and I think if there is a punishment then it should be handled internally,”
Yale spokesman Thomas Conroy told the AP that there is clear signage at each entrance to the laboratory that forbids photography in the space.
Conroy also told the AP that the symposium was not part of Yale’s anatomy program and the heads seen in the selfie were not donated to Yale. It is not clear how the heads were obtained.
“No one should have taken a selfie, cadavers in the frame or not,” Calzadilla said. “These are people who donated their bodies to science to continue making a difference after they’re gone.”
Ashley Anglisano is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.