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86 Comments

news

York Stands Behind Its Decision to Accommodate Male Student Unwilling to Work Alongside Women

But the university says if the online course had been in-class and on-campus, it would likely have been a different story.

Photo by ^ Missi ^, from the Torontoist Flickr pool

Photo by ^ Missi ^, from the Torontoist Flickr pool.

When one of Paul Grayson’s students indicated he would not be prepared to do group work with female students because of his religious beliefs, the York University professor felt strongly that he should not be accommodated in this matter, as doing so would be to satisfy a religious requirement by accepting a “negative definition of females.” But the faculty’s dean and the director for the centre for human rights felt differently: the vice dean held that as other students in the online course were able to substitute a different assignment in place of group work because of distance, this student should be given the same option for religious reasons; the director explained that “the OHRC does require accommodations based on religious observances.”

After discussing the university’s decision at a departmental meeting, Grayson denied the student’s request. (The student himself ended up agreeing to complete the assigned group-work project with female students.)

Rhonda Lenton, provost and vice-president academic for York, appeared on CBC’s Metro Morning today, and said she believes the university made the right decision—but also suggested the university’s position might have had more to do with a concern about misleading advertising than the accommodation of religious observances. “The course had been advertised as an online course and the student had signed up for the course on the understanding that he would not be required to attend on campus,” she said. “If it had been an in-class on-campus course, the likely response here would have been that an accommodation would not have been provided.”

Comments

  • wklis

    Religion = superstition.

    • http://www.jpaterson.net/ James D Paterson

      Couldn’t be further from the truth.

      • Guest

        Exactly! …that’s why it’s superstition

        • torontothegreat

          Gold!

        • Dinah Might

          *cue Stevie Wonder funk beat*

    • OgtheDim

      Serious question: are you calling me and other religious persons, unthinking, unable to use rationale thought and subjectively stupid in your eyes?

      Cause calling people stupid because they are different then you is pretty much the same sort of thinking that you are decrying here.

      • torontothegreat

        No. They are calling religion a superstition.
        I can’t help LOL’ing at the irony of a religious person (you) misinterpreting basic language.

        • OgtheDim

          Superstition is a subjective phrase which implies what I stated and certainly means that in many people’s eyes.

          But I suppose its OK to discriminate against people based on having a religion………

          Irony to me in all this is that I and quite a few religious people actually strongly disagree with the fool who started all this,

          He shouldn’t be allowed to tar a whole swath of people based on his understanding of what they are.

          But then neither should wklis.

          • torontothegreat

            No, superstition is anything that contradicts natural science.

            P.S. Discrimination doesn’t mean what you think it means.

          • OgtheDim

            The English language includes more meanings then you are limiting it to. Meaning is fluid.

            And nice sort of head pat on the second line there….you forgot to include the word “boy” when you drawled that.

          • torontothegreat

            “And nice sort of head pat on the second line there….you forgot to include the word “boy” when you drawled that.”

            Huh?

          • OgtheDim

            Ur inability to get that bit kinda undercuts your whole :”I’m smarter then you” vibe.

            And also undercuts your distaste for what the fool being discussed up at York is doing..

            As I say a lot on here, people would do better to listen rather then yell at people who are not like them.

            Me, I just don’t like discriminatory language or practice, no matter who its aimed at. That I’ll not stop yelling at.

          • torontothegreat

            Ur inability to get that bit kinda undercuts your whole :”I’m smarter then you” vibe.

            Or, you’re a horrible communicator. Perspective, helluva thing…

            And also undercuts your distaste for what the fool being discussed up at York is doing..

            You’ve put so many words in my mouth, I think I’m probably looking rather squirrelish by now, in your mind’s eye.

            If anything, your ad hominem underscores rather than undercuts anything being presented in this article.

          • torontothegreat

            hypocrisy is a human trait

            It’s actually a character trait – and there is NOTHING fluid or subjective about that – so if one’s character is individual to each human… Well, you have already shown how shorthanded you are as a human. A trait I often observe amongst the religious.

          • torontothegreat

            The English language includes more meanings then you are limiting it to. Meaning is fluid.

            Well then, I guess your understanding is different than mine.

          • OgtheDim

            And spellings but oh well…if you prefer to snark rather then debate…

          • torontothegreat

            So start here:

            Superstition is anything, that contradicts natural science. “Religion” however, IS a subjective phrase, in this case it is subjectively being called “superstition”

            But hey, if YOU’D prefer snark, I can be Roman too!

          • torontothegreat

            But it’s not just this instance of your misuse of the word. You have repeatedly mixed the two words and their meanings up already.

            So perhaps you can explain to me how anyone should take your self-implied authority on the subject of “words and their meanings” seriously?

          • torontothegreat

            Irony to me in all this is that I and quite a few religious people actually strongly disagree with the fool who started all this, He shouldn’t be allowed to tar a whole swath of people based on his understanding of what they are.

            Serious question: Do you see what you just did there?

      • OgtheDim

        Still waiting for the answer wklis.

      • tyrannosaurus_rek

        Someone can be perfectly rational 99% of the time and still cling to an irrational superstition or two.

        • dsmithhfx

          As a thoroughly irrational species, we are especially irrational in our mindless and destructive pursuit of the rational, as if that will save us from ourselves.

      • rich1299

        From your responses its clear you understood the original post as “religious people=superstitious people” instead of what was actually written. I’m sure in some cases they’re the same thing. There is nothing rational about religious belief since they are off in supernatural land which is by its very definition irrational. Any sort of orthodoxy or dogma is the rotting corpse of thought since new thoughts are not allowed, all the thinking was done a long time ago and new thoughts are punished in some way. Religions of course aren’t the only things that adhere to dogma and orthodoxy.

        When it comes to religion followers are being superstitious, irrational and unthinking. But that’s not the same as saying religious people are superstitious, irrational, and unthinking unless perhaps they bring their religious beliefs into all aspects of their life but that’s not so common in Canada. For most people religion only takes up about an hour of their week and they can easily slip out of religious mode and return to being rational thinking people. I’ve seen people go back and forth all the time.

  • Orson Sedmina

    BS excuse. The administration is obviously rolling back over.

    • andrew97

      Why? I think York’s position makes a lot of sense. The instructor had already granted an exemption to someone else who couldn’t come to class. Effectively, the prof was saying: I’m giving exemptions to others but I’m not going to give one to you because your religion is weird. Whether or not the student’s religion sucks, he has a charter right to reasonable accommodation.

      • http://joeclark.org/weblogs/ Joe Clark

        Accommodation short of undue hardship. Clash-of-rights cases are not as cut and dried as you downtown progressives think they are. (Here, “downtown progressives” equates with “Islamic apologists” even though the subject’s religion has not been disclosed.)

        • vampchick21

          Don’t be an arse. Your point was agreeable up until you used ‘downtown progressives’ and ‘Islamic apologists’. That’s when you went off the rails and showed yourself incapable of discussing things without looking like a smug Fox News personality.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Joe’s arse switch doesn’t have an ‘off’ position.

        • dsmithhfx

          Tell us about HTML. What’s wrong today?

          • http://joeclark.org/weblogs/ Joe Clark

            Your neutral apostrophe sickens me.

        • Eric S. Smith

          “Accommodation short of undue hardship.”

          Since a logistically equivalent exception was made for someone else, I think “undue hardship” probably doesn’t apply.

          • http://joeclark.org/weblogs/ Joe Clark

            Accommodation isn’t transferable. It isn’t an account you deplete with nothing left over for the next case. You have to accommodate the subject short of undue hardship.

        • torontothegreat

          “you downtown progressives think they are”

          Dude, you live at St. Clair/Bathurst. Get a f’n grip.

          • http://joeclark.org/weblogs/ Joe Clark

            Guess again.

          • torontothegreat

            Nice try @contenunu:disqus I see you all the time, you shop at Loblaws with your ugly-ass partner and take the Christie bus so much that most of the drivers know you by name (and talk smack about you behind your back).

            So again, get a f’n grip.

      • Stephanie Avery

        Just like when I was in university, profs were always granting extensions to students who were ill or having family issues but when I wanted extensions because I was a procrastinating slacker I was always denied. So unfair of them to take context into consideration.

      • Orson Sedmina

        Actually the prof was saying, “I’ve given exemptions to people who can’t physically make it, but you can and the only reason you won’t is your iron age tribal superstitions are a good excuse for you to be a childish dick who is afraid of women and is probably just trying to get out of an assignment.”

      • Orson Sedmina

        And by the way, gender rights are inalienable. I just changed my ‘religious beliefs’ yesterday. Ooops, look, I just changed them a minute ago. I guess I stone people to death, oh accommodating Canada.
        I can’t wait for the day someone tramples on my inalienable rights with their superstitions. I really. Can’t. Wait.

        • andrew97

          What’s it like to live in a world where asking your prof for a make-up assignment is equivalent to stoning people? Short life expectancies, I bet.

          • Orson Sedmina

            I wasn’t proposing an equivalence there. Nice try though.

      • Functionalist

        Actually, the Charter doesn’t apply to York University or any university administered independently of the government (McKinney v. U of Guelph)–unless they violate the the Charter while carrying out a specific government program.

  • Mark

    So did they accept his request to not work with people or not? The article says his petition was denied but then says he accepted working with women? I can’t work out what the outcome was from your article.

  • Pete

    Is (monotheist) RELIGION inherently sexist? ~ YES it is!

    • OgtheDim

      Uh, no but then lets just be as blatantly unthinkingly biased against some people as this guy was……

      • torontothegreat

        Unless you’re a buddhist? Then: Uh yea…

        Please prove me wrong.

      • tyrannosaurus_rek

        Religion isn’t a person. Some religions are undeniably sexist, even if their adherents aren’t.

    • Duckworks

      Hinduism (polytheist) isn’t exactly a feminist faith. Look at the staggering rates of sexual assault in predominantly Hindu states in India. The same applies for animist religions, which, despite Dances With Wolves-style revisionism, were grossly sexist. And did you think Viking. Greco-Roman, Druid, Meso-American polytheism were women’s paradises? Western xenophiles have laughable double standards.

      My mother had an interesting conversation with an elderly Hindu lady, at a grocery store. The woman recalled how she used to ‘party’ as a young woman, at Diwali festivals, and…a couple of young women in tee-shirts and shorts walked in, prompting the woman to remark, “those girls are asking to be raped.” Lots of great aspects to Hindu culture (cuisine, music, architecture), but women’s rights are not among them.

  • joshrachlis

    I’ll fill in for him and work alongside any and all female York students. Where do I sign up?

    • linnyqat

      Heh! You don’t have to be religious to reduce women to sex objects. Equality for all misogynists! ;)

  • Gerlinde Paterson

    I don’t understand, this male student does not want to study with female students? What is same student planing on doing once he is a full fletched doctor? Is he then not helping female patients later on in practice either? For religious reasons? What does religion have to do with health issues? Perhaps this student chose the wrong profession. Like I say, I am puzzled.

  • torontothegreat

    I’d like to know what backwoods religion this person is practicing?

    • vampchick21

      Imma gonna go with snake handler.

      • torontothegreat

        Well I guess he’s hoping that arranged marriages are part of his religion, otherwise that’s all he’s going to be doing ;)

        • vampchick21

          Who needs marriage when you can handle snakes?????

    • Duckworks

      Here’s a clue: the ‘Prophet’ was an illiterate man who married a nine year old.

      • vampchick21

        To be totally fair, 1400 years ago, it was common for girls to be married at a very young age, not just in what is now the Middle East, but also in Europe, and it was equally common for the groom to be an adult male and the bride to be a child or young teen girl. Marriage wasn’t supposed to be consummated until the bride was of a fertile age (the onset of menses), but we really have no way of telling how many grooms waited.

      • MCTBAYMC@gmail.com

        The Killer Jerry Lee Lewis is a Rock and Deity . I never realized he was a prophet

        • Duckworks

          Jerry ‘Great Balls of Fire’ Lewis nailed a thirteen year old; Mo’ got himself a preteen. He would be a registered sex offender today.

          Remember the Jewel of Medina controversy? This is worth a read:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jewel_of_Medina

      • torontothegreat

        Mormon?

  • OgtheDim

    So York says accommodating based on distance = accommodating based on a religious ideal that is against the Charter

    Do these people not have lawyers to vet this stuff?

  • Flootie McTootie

    York University is a fucking disgrace.

  • Flootie McTootie

    Also, online “university” is for losers and sociopaths.

    • MCTBAYMC@gmail.com

      In my short time here it seems those mentioned are some of the posters here who are quick on the racist word but apparently intolerant of anything other then their agenda.

      Not directed at OP

  • Flootie McTootie

    If you can’t hack being in a class with human beings and, GOD FORBID, women, you should probably go back to whatever barbaric hellhole spawned you.

    • HotDang

      barbaric hellhole

      Which is quite likely to be Mississauga in this case.

      • Duckworks

        The student is likely in university because that is the ticket to a visa for him and his entire extended family (some of whom, like the Shafias, may be on investor visas) to come here. And universities expect their instructors to bend over and grease up for these people because foreign students pay cash. Instructors in universities across Canada have complained of being pressured to pass even marginal foreign students, because they are paying clients. And the Harper-Kenney-Alexander immigration regime has expanded this racket.

      • dsmithhfx

        Etobicoke, shirley.

    • Duckworks

      There are other problems with this multiculti mess. A cousin of mine was a student at one of Calgary’s two accredited universities, and was in the women’s washroom with one of her Muslim classmates, right before an exam. The classmate slipped a Bluetooth earset under her hijab, and went into the exam room. One can safely assume that this was not an isolated case.

      • Stephanie Avery

        Shocking news: When I was in university I sometimes cheated on exams and I’m a white atheist! One can safely assume that this was not an isolated case. Better start making blanket generalizations about all white, female atheists, AMIRITE.

    • MCTBAYMC@gmail.com

      Possibly special dude is just being polite as they have bad personal hygiene habits or can’t control sexual impulses.
      How does a species survive without sperm to egg? How you disrespect potential mothers in waiting?
      Is there a gay tribe somewhere with advanced procreation technology? If so can we assume George Bush was a hatchling

  • Duckworks

    The elephant in the room is the student’s religion, which (I would bet you a box of Timbits) is the Salafist sect of Islam. There have also been problems in Canada with other religious groups (conservative Sikhs, for example), but Salafi Islam–the dominant and growing sect here–keeps coming up in these situations. There have been other culture clashes, some ending in tragedy (Aqsa Parvez, Shafia murders, arguably Gamil Gharbi’s misogynistic mass murder spree). It’s time to admit that the disco-era social experiment of mass third world immigration and multiculturalism, brought to Canada by Messrs Trudeau and Mulroney, needs to be wound down. Immigrants from these cultures generally don’t adopt Canadian sartorial practices, cuisine, or even, in many cases, one of our official languages–what makes people think that they’ll adopt Canadian social norms, regarding things like gender relations, either?

    • dsmithhfx

      And the bigot decloaks.

      • Duckworks

        If you are a woman, and travel to, say, the UAE, you are expected to wear a hijab and loose-fitting (‘modest’) clothing, and refrain from interacting with men. Yet we make no reciprocal demands on people who come here, even as permanent immigrants. And we are somehow shocked–SHOCKED–that Muslim immigrants are killing their daughters for dating Canadian men, Sikh and Hindu husbands set fire to their ex-wives, phasmophobic Chinese condo investors are fighting the construction of hospices, many groups are forcing their children into arranged marriages, and East African immigrants are circumcising their daughters. And our governments keep applying band-aid solutions, without fixing the root cause. The Calgary Police Service now has a special Honour Crimes Unit, the Federal Government publishes silly guidebooks for immigrants, etc. What we need is a return to the sane immigration and cultural policies of the pre-Trudeau era.

        • tyrannosaurus_rek

          So you think the government should force people to migle with the opposite sex, undergo forced conversions to more tolerant religions (or no religion), and dictate what one can and can’t believe?

      • MCTBAYMC@gmail.com

        You can’t accommodate a different belief but expect others too?
        We in Canada have forgotten the indigenous peoples knowledge for corporate greed and import divisiveness in the guise of diversity.
        Divide and Conquer is the game.

        • torontothegreat

          Are you, yourself aboriginal?

          • Duckworks

            Don’t know why that comment was deleted, but here’s something else. In the 1990s, It was verboten to discuss the Bering Strait land bridge theory of North American settlement on Canadian campuses, because it denied Native creation myths, This was as egregious censorship of science as the Scopes monkey trial, but was okay by the PC crown, since it wasn’t CHRISTIAN creationism that was behind the censorship. This is how nuts Canadian university campuses have become.

          • MCTBAYMC@gmail.com

            In my short week here I witnessed posts deleted and experienced posts disappearing. Did I misread the playing policy?
            Anyways what I have read here I found your postings most interesting.

            Not sure I care much for this site or the belief of some that people cannot share ideals regardless and if you/ society doesn’t accommodate them then Racism is first thing out their mouth.
            Some of the most ignorant, entitled individuals I have encountered on net in while.
            Almost seems someone is fueling reverse discrimination here which is racism .

            System could careless about your race creed or colour. System is most concerned that you consume and someone other than the 1% and I don’t mean the Bikers pays for the privilege of consuming.

    • nevilleross

      What York did in accommodating this student is not good, but what you just said is racist and insulting, as well as speculative.

      • MCTBAYMC@gmail.com

        Find another UhmmDuh word.
        You talk about speculation LOL

      • Duckworks

        Not ‘racist’ to admit that cultures (which have zero to do with ‘race’) have their own sets of norms and values, which are often grossly incompatible. This is why the nation state (ethnically coherent within its borders, laws drafted to accommodate the majority culture) evolved. And it IS insulting when people migrate here, but refuse to speak the language, or conform to our social norms.

    • Eric S. Smith

      “Cuisine.”

  • EmmaDaoust

    So ONE student asks for this “religious accommodation” – which a caller to CBC described as “showing respect for women, not disdain”. So York accommodated this ONE student. What if MANY students in MANY educational institutions requested this? How do you accommodate that? It is quite possible this could come up. Do you segregate the sexes? Do you set up different schools? Do you trample other peoples’ rights? I’m asking.

    • Eric S. Smith

      “So York accommodated this ONE student.”

      Ah, but they didn’t. The prof talked him out of it.

    • andrew97

      The issue is, you can’t grant exceptions to some people, and then deny others because you find their belief system sad and wrong. The prof could have said, “Everyone must do the group assignment, no exceptions,” and then he could well have told the religious dude to get lost. But he granted an exception to someone, so he was obliged to grant it to the religious dude as a matter of non-discrimination.

      There’s no slippery slope here. Classes won’t segregate, as long as university policy is to never segregate them.

      • tyrannosaurus_rek

        I thought he granted an exception to a student who physically wasn’t capable of meeting with a group because they are taking the course online from a distance. A comparable exception would be for a handicapped student because they are unable to physically meet for medical reasons. This student is physically capable but unwilling to meet his group because they are female. No exception should have been made; not because of religion, but because it really would open the door to any student who wants to get out of assignments for more questionable but convenient beliefs.