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January 15, 2014

Canadian University Orders Professor to Honor Student's Demand That He Not be Required to Work With Women, Due to His Religious Beliefs

What religion those beliefs arise out of is never specified. But, this being Canada, where the law says you could be fined or imprisoned for denigrating a particular religion's beliefs, I have a guess.

A student enrolled in York University's online program was assigned an in-person group project which included women. He told his professor he would not be able to work with women due to his religious beliefs and asked his professor to arrange it so that he wouldn't have to. The professor informed the student he would not be able to accommodate him. The York University administration overruled the professor and instructed him to honor the request.

The school stated a request by one of Grayson's students - who has yet to be identified - must be granted because of the university's obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code when it comes to religious accommodation.

Grayson's response, which was obtained by QMI Agency on Monday, argues that the decision made by York University dean Martin Singer is based on weak ground and is a slap in the face to female students - whom, he argues, also have rights to be accepted and treated equally.

"I do not believe that we want to be known as a university in which the rights of female students can be compromised by religious concerns," Grayson said in his Monday statement, quoting himself in a letter he sent to the university's dean in October, shortly after the student made his request.


Grayson, who has acknowledged he grants such requests to some students for reasons of distance, initially did not want to agree to the student's request because of how it would make females in the class feel, and sent his reasoning to Singer.


"I have empirical evidence indicating that the granting of the accommodation would lead some female members of the class to feel belittled and humiliated," Grayson writes. "In other words, the accommodation would have a substantial impact on other students' experience of the class.

"This alone should have been sufficient to deny the accommodation."

As noted in the TV magazine segment on this below, the student actually accepted the professor's reasoning regarding the refusal to accommodate him. That is, he said, "Well okay then."

It's the school, now, which seems to be pressing the matter on his behalf.

I have two thoughts here. The first is the obvious one: This is an absurd request and should be denied.

The second one, though, is this: We all know that many in positions of authority are determined to impose their own values system on anyone who has the misfortune to find himself under their control.

I object to this student's backwards-ass religious imperative of regarding women only as baby-makers and homemakers. But so what? What do I care if he believes something, even if it is a stupid thing?

I don't respect his belief in the sense of finding any justification for it. But I can at least respect his right to be as wrong as he wishes, so long as it's not unduly burdensome for anyone else.

I guess that's what the question comes down to -- whether honoring this student's request would be "unduly burdensome" for the female students he was separated from in group projects. The professor's reasoning is that they'd feel "belittled," but that comes very close in my mind to the all-purpose justification for squashing minority beliefs and opinions -- someone's feelings will be hurt if you're permitted to go on believing this thing.

I also wonder about the female students this guy would be working with, should his request not be honored. Would they find working with him to be pleasant? Or a chore? If avoiding feelings of discomfort is the goal, I think I might choose to separate the female students from this cretin.

How much of a stake should society have in ensuring, with all its government power and government-supported institutions, that no one ever discovers that someone else in the world doesn't like her?

Apologies: Insomnia struck. I had been getting up and going to bed early and then last night, wide awake in bed until nearly seven.

Clarified/Corrected: Although the student was taking the class (a sociology class) online, the actual group project was in-person.

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posted by Ace at 02:45 PM

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