Hierarchy in Human Rights?

York and Ontario must decide because a boy didn’t want to work with girls
Rahman MohamedVari Hall

On January 9 The National Post reported that York University told Sociology Professor Paul Grayson (currently teaching AP/SOCI 2030 Sociological Research Methods and AP/SOCI 3480 Organizations, Work and Society; both online courses) to not force an unnamed to student to work with women because he said it was against it was against his religious beliefs.

Grayson wanted to deny the student’s request, but The National Post reported that LA&PS Dean Martin Singer wanted to allow it saying, in a letter, that the request “does not, in my opinion qualify as a ‘substantial impact’ on any other student’s rights.” A university provost, speaking on behalf of York after consulting legal counsel, the Human Rights Code, and York’s human rights centre said “Students select online courses to help them navigate all types of personal circumstances that make it difficult for them to attend classes on campus, and all students in the class would normally have access to whatever alternative grading scheme had been put in place as a result of the online format.”

The vice dean wrote to Grayson saying “I think Mr. X must be accommodated in exactly the same manner as the distant student has.”

In the end Professor Grayson took the ruling to a department meeting; other professors agreed with him and passed a motion to refuse students accommodation if it marginalized another student, faculty member, or TA.

The next day the professor used the motion to force Student X to work with a group; many of whom were women; he didn’t object.

In response to this, one student said that in today’s world the fight for gender equality and religious beliefs are both important, saying, “Sometimes I don’t know whose side I would be on.”

On January 9, Rhonda Lenton, provost and vice-president academic, issued a statement on YFile saying “Each request for accommodation is carefully reviewed based on its own merits in the best interests of all…There are cases where accommodation is not possible, such as when it infringes on the rights of other individuals or compromises the academic integrity of a course.” adding that decisions for accommodation requests are made after considering the Ontario Human Rights Code, accommodation conflicts face other secular universities, not just York, that York is committed to gender equity, inclusivity and diversity, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission is currently reviewing the matter.

Student X’s religion hasn’t been named.

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