York University professor who refused student’s request to be separated from female classmates broke “€˜obligation to accommodate”: officials

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After refusing to honour a male student’s request to be separated from his female classmates for religious reasons, a York University professor has found himself at odds with administrators who assert he broke their “obligation to accommodate.”

“It represents a great leap backwards,” said sociology professor J. Paul Grayson. “When I was a student, you couldn’t have gotten away with that — it wouldn’t even have been considered.”

The issue arose last September in the opening days of SOCI 2030, an online course taught by Mr. Grayson.

A student, who remains nameless due to privacy reasons, asked to be counted out of a scheduled group project due to the course’s heavy preponderance of female students.

“One of the main reasons that I have chosen internet courses to complete my BA is due to my firm religious beliefs, and part of that is the intermingling between men and women,” he wrote, adding “it will not be possible for me to meet in public with a group of women (the majority of my group) to complete some of these tasks.”

Written By: Tristin Hopper
continue to source article at news.nationalpost.com

60 COMMENTS

  1. What absolute rubbish! York University needs to reexamine its values. This is PC gone overboard. If the student in question cannot conform to the course requirements, HE should drop out and hide in a cave somewhere, but not expect any of the benefits and opportunities society is currently providing him with.

    As a firm believer in Odin creating everyone equally, I insist anyone I come in contact with not be wearing cloths. It is an offence to Odin to even suggest we cover ourselves. If Odin had wished us to have clothing, we would have been born with cloths, not just skin 😉

    Why is MY religion not offered the same respect by society demanded by this delusional student?? jcw

    • In reply to #1 by kaiserkriss:

      … As a firm believer in Odin creating everyone equally, I insist anyone I come in contact with not be wearing cloths. It is an offence to Odin to even suggest we cover ourselves. If Odin had wished us to have clothing, we would have been born with cloths, not just skin 😉

      Presuming that your are male and married, Does your mother-in-law feel the same way? or even the father in law? (just kidding)

    • In reply to #1 by kaiserkriss:

      What absolute rubbish! York University needs to reexamine its values. This is PC gone overboard. If the student in question cannot conform to the course requirements, HE should drop out and hide in a cave somewhere, but not expect any of the benefits and opportunities society is currently providing…

      And why are we letting the jews, christians and muslims wear mixed fibres? If they want to convince me they are taking this stuff so seriously they should prove it, second thoughts please don’t bother!!

    • In reply to #5 by aldous:

      This is Canada, isn’t it? Does that explain it?

      Generally, no. We have multiculturalism, but zero tolerance generally for culture that is bigoted. Bring your great food, clothes, festivals, etc… but leave the hate behind.

  2. If a student has a problem with mixed gender classes then that is his or her problem. It should not be a problem imposed on others.

    Let’s propose a hypothetical situation which is isomorphic to this one: I’m of an imaginary religion that does not allow me to mix with black people. It is my firm religious belief (and historically one which has existed). Now will the administrators dare consider segregation of the classroom? I somehow doubt they would be asking for “accommodation” of my belief system.

  3. How do you get to the his position and not realise how ridiculous even going to the extend of asking Jewish and Muslim scholars is? What if they had suggested there was religious foundation for the students claim. No, you are free to choose another style of education that suits your bigotry’s. That the Dean is so willing to give up hard won freedoms at a whim shows he should be booted out of any position of authority. I don’t suppose if the Dean was a woman she would resign if a fundamentalist objected to their university being run by a woman, or a black, or a Christian or Muslim of the wrong type?

    • In reply to #9 by kraut:

      The correct answer to the student making the demand? Fuck off.

      At first glance, I thought the title was “NEW York University…” and I thought “O Fuck! It’s starting in the U.S.!”

      Whew!

      At my dental school a couple years ago we had a female muslim student who appealed to the Dean of Clinical Affairs to 1) not have any male patients assigned to her and 2) not be supervised in the clinic by any male faculty. His answer: “That’s not going to happen.”

      Interestingly, I have supervised this student and she’s quite good and doesn’t seem to have any issues with me… I like to think she’s broadening her worldview. But what a slippery slope this could be with spineless administration.

      Steve

      • In reply to #16 by Agrajag:

        In reply to #9 by kraut:

        The correct answer to the student making the demand? Fuck off.

        At first glance, I thought the title was “NEW York University…” and I thought “O Fuck! It’s starting in the U.S.!”

        Whew!

        At my dental school a couple years ago we had a female muslim student who appealed to…

        well maybe not so much spineless as ignorant. it’s so easy for muslims and other minority or aggrieved groups to actually misuse political correctness

        • In reply to #26 by Net:

          well maybe not so much spineless as ignorant. it’s so easy for muslims and other minority or aggrieved groups to actually misuse political correctness

          How about this: ignorant AND spineless!

          Oh, and… CANADA… a bit too close to home!

          Steve

  4. There must be a limit to the amount of jobs, or indeed, circumstances in life in general, that one can experience that won’t leave one in the company of a group of members of the opposite sex at some point.Surely a university education is meant to prepare you for a life in the big, bad world which is composed of both men and women? Why has this guy gone to university if he intends to live as a hermit? This kind of nonsense needs to be stamped down upon and firmly. If you want to have an education that in no way benefits the broader society and precludes you from functioning in that society then the religious sect you aim to represent should be paying for you to be educated.

  5. “Obligation to accommodate”?!

    For f-s sake! It’s the exact opposite of that; we do not have an obligation to accommodate requests for segregation. You cannot expect that society caters to your every whim, that it creates a bubble around you that protects you against everything that you find uncomfortable. If you don’t like sitting close to women…tough! It’s your problem, not the professor’s, not the women’s.

  6. Someone somewhere in the course of this story got punked.

    For starters, I’m not aware of journalistic standards in Canada that would withhold the name of a story’s main protagonist for “privacy reasons”. The lack of clarity on which religious grounds the controversy is based is another clue. Then there’s the unnamed Dean.

    There’s more, but with that, I’m going to stop here.

    This article is an obvious hoax and I’m appalled The National Post fell for it.

      • In reply to #15 by Kim Probable:
        >

        The university did release a statement in regards to this issue.

        Thanks.

        As an aside, I met M. Gérard Bouchard several times; he’s also an incorrigibly adorable, charming and harmless flirt. Very nice man and always a pleasure to talk to him.

        Anecdote: in the full swing of the Bouchard-Taylor commission. while digging for something in his very receipt-full wallet (don’t get the wrong idea), he casually mentioned how he’s not reimbursed for expenses for which he doesn’t provide a receipt. So he harnesses them all until he’s sure he doesn’t need this one or that one.

        I said: Well, that’s not very accommodating.

        He paused, looked at me and laughed out loud.

      • In reply to #15 by Kim Probable:

        In reply to #14 by Lilium:

        Someone somewhere in the course of this story got punked.

        The university did release a statement in regards to this issue.

        That’s interesting. They seem to be open to a range of resolutions, though that could be window dressing or simply damage control. As I said above, I suspect there’s a small group inside the Uni admin and/or SU pushing for this, though I wonder a little at their motivation. One right-wing technique is to caricature left positions and take them to absurd extremes to incite reaction against them, a refinement of the agent provocateur. A variation is to encourage left or other dissident groups to extremes to obtain the same effect.

    • In reply to #14 by Lilium:

      Someone somewhere in the course of this story got punked.

      For starters, I’m not aware of journalistic standards in Canada that would withhold the name of a story’s main protagonist for “privacy reasons”. The lack of clarity on which religious grounds the controversy is based is another clue. Then t…

      I think you’re probably right that this is a hoax; if so, apart from selling copy, what would be the motivation for it be?

      I think it could also be being done to expose just how much you can get away with under the guise of religion.

      I think we’ll here more about this.

      S G

  7. good heavens, if i found myself in class with such a student, i’d withdraw, making it clear that i was not comfortable with misogyny practised in any form and for any reason. besides, public universities are secular and no religion should be accommodated.

    • In reply to #19 by Alakan:

      “Obligation to accommodate”; this has to take-the-cake as the most insipid, flaccid, PC catch-phrase yet. Expect to see a lot more of it…

      I’m not convinced it was used except in reporting on this case: “The Taylor-Bouchard Commission of 2007-8 recommended accommodation as a guiding principle, while recognizing that the duty to accommodate is not limitless.”

      Google site:yorku.ca “Obligation to accommodate” and it’s used to refer to people with disabilities, medical conditions, parents, etc There are eight hits.

      There is one reference to religion, “Markovic v. Autocom Manufacturing Ltd.” a case law example, which oddly enough seems to discuss some of the issues relating to this case, but has nothing to do with it otherwise.

      The consequences of that case are laid out here and appear to relate to holiday arrangements for those who prefer to observe non-Christian holidays. It has virtually nothing to do with the kind of accommodation requested. This sounds like a deliberate misinterpretation and as other commenters have suggested, seems very fishy.

      Having scanned through this and considering the lecturer’s involvement, it’s starting to sound more and more like this student is hypothetical, or perhaps based on the hypothesis that the Canadian (and wider) press will run with any anti-Muslim scaremongering it can get its hands on, which if so would seem to be proven. It might be something subtler, but I’m not quite getting it if so.

      See also.

  8. It seems very strange that at no time was the student required to demonstrate membership of an established religion whose principles he was following. If you don’t do this the student can make up any old rubbish like: “I worship the great god zogg who demands I never submit items of assessment but receive A’s for all my courses”. Accommodate that !

    Michael

    • In reply to #22 by mmurray:

      It seems very strange that at no time was the student required to demonstrate membership of an established religion whose principles he was following. If you don’t do this the student can make up any old rubbish like: “I worship the great god zogg who demands I never submit items of assessment but…

      Tell us more about this great god called zogg. How does he like to be worshipped, and what sort of sacrifices does he prefer?

  9. After getting wind of the resolution — as well as Mr. Grayson’s stated refusal to honour his accommodation — the student cheerfully backed off.He attended the group session without protest and even wrote a memo to Mr. Grayson thanking him “for the way you have handled this request.”

    Grayson fixed the problem.And then – what do you know – the Big Kahunas at the university get mad at him.Have mercy!!

  10. I’m pleased to see the teacher refusing this request & the student accepting the decision, since York University is 10kms from my home & I dislike attempts to undermine Canada’s slowly evolving secular higher education system.

    It’s bad enough we still have our Catholic Separate School System that resists being dragged into the 21st century, along with our AGW-denier, fundie, creationist Prime Minister mis-leading us into the past…. Mac.

  11. Infants learn very early on that if they bawl loud enough they can get what they want, if their parents are weak and spoil them; I know I did.

    If this is a genuine request/demand then it’s par for the course, in the sense that religious leaders long ago cottoned on to the fact that they could get exemptions from tax liability and unelected positions in Government etc if they engaged in special pleading sufficiently, and I think that that realization has spread through the ranks of the believers, and this guy’s trying it on.

    Or, this is simply a strategy to emphasize what ridiculous ends religious belief can result in.

    I look forward to hearing more about this.

    On the other hand, perhaps I need to get a life!

  12. This is Canada, isn’t it? Does that explain it?

    Yes, not to be confused with University of York in the UK. Some people already have unfortunately…

    The point people seem to be missing in this thread with their hypotheticals is this statement from the Dean:

    The Dean dismissed the November survey, saying he was not “persuaded that other students’ political views on the subject are either a relevant or an appropriate consideration.”

    Political views – keep to yourselves, here you will be expected to abide by the same rules as everyone else. Ethical, cultural, social views – ditto. Yet as soon as you attach the word ‘religious’ to your views, all of a sudden all amounts of doors open and backs must be bent over triple backwards and rules bent and broken to accommodate.

  13. Who do these administrators think they are helping? Do they really think an individual with backward attitudes like this young student will make it in a modern society? Who in their right mind would hire a person who refuses to interact with half of the population? It’s just cowardice, nothing more nothing less. They just don’t want to deal with these problems so they try to ignore them. But, it won’t magically erase these problems. We have to face it. A growing number of people in our societies (to be honest, mostly Muslims) hold values that are completely out of track with a modern society. The fact that a few politicians and administrators pay lip service to these ignorant fools will not change this fact. These people will never be an integrated part of a modern society. This political correctness will come back and bite us in the end. We are creating a new class society where certain ethnic minorities will inevitably become second-class citizens. Yes, I actually feel sorry for these ignorant fools. They grow up in a religious environment and due to our political correctness these youngsters will never be challenged or given an opportunity to succeed in society. The people who pay lip service to ignorance do not really care about these ethnic minorities. In fact quite the opposite. They are just cowards who are afraid of confrontations. In fact, they are condemning these people to a life of segregation and poverty.

  14. Accommodationism gone wild. After reading the whole article, I see that the Dean is an even bigger asshole than the student who made the request in the first place. The student “cheerfully” backed off but the Dean still insisted upon accommodating his religious views IN SPITE OF THE FACT that both an Islamic and Judaic authority said it was not required. I hope the article goes viral and the Dean is made a laughing stock.

  15. Errr…. this guy enrols on a social ‘science’ course and then objects to taking part in group exercises due to the preponderance of female students on the course? What did he expect? And even if he does complete the course how does he expect to apply himself in that field in the workplace without any female contact?

    Speaking from personal experience, if he wants to partake in a degree course and avoid female contact he should enrol in the department of geology. The geology department I attended was a total sausage fest compared to the ‘social sciences’ and ‘business studies’ faculties … but then again, he’d probably cry ‘breach of obligation to accommodate’ on the basis that the courses on palaeontology, earth history and plate tectonics were at odds with his religious beliefs!

  16. If he’s a sociology student, he should be aware of why his demand shouldn’t be accepted. That said, Prof. Grayson’s reason for not accomodating to the guy wasn’t exactly the right one either…

    Actually, since he’s in that particular field, I’d like to see him write an essay on why he should get his way with this. That would certainly be interesting to read.

  17. “Dear Sir

    “I do not believe I can attend the course you are offering on the terms on which it is offered. The presence of other human beings offends me too greatly.

    “So, er, um, well that’s it really. I suppose I won’t turn up. Sorry to mess you all about.”

    Cut and paste, fuckwit.

  18. “obligation to accommodate.”

    quite

    he should have imediately accommodated this request by derecting the student to the nearest mosque to continue his education while the professor accommodates the ones who came to study

    • In reply to #40 by SaganTheCat:

      “obligation to accommodate.”

      quite

      he should have imediately accommodated this request by derecting the student to the nearest mosque to continue his education while the professor accommodates the ones who came to study

      I have an idea that I shall enroll for a course at this University.

      I shall cite my belief in Islam and particularly in Koranic verses such as 9:5 in my demand for accommodation. Namely that when the sacred months have passed (1st 7th 11th & 12th), then I will need to slay the idolaters, such as Jews and Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists), wherever I find them.
      I can bring my own sword. In return I would demand that no intolerant interference in my religious observance should obstruct the enactment of my sincerely held religious beliefs!

  19. More mental illness from the single most stupid religion in the galaxy. lslam, believe in the ridiculous, under threat of eternal fire, its destined to be eternally stupid. Why don’t all these casualties of this comedy religion all get together garner all their abilities and go off and build their perfect Islamic state, somewhere, far away from the rest of humanity?

  20. It isn’t half as bad as the case this week in the UK of an appeal judge reducing the sentences by a good few years of a Pakistani couple who sawed off a guys head in front of a 12 year old girl, as the original judge hadn’t taken account of cultural differences.

    • In reply to #42 by RevJimBob:

      It isn’t half as bad as the case this week in the UK of an appeal judge reducing the sentences by a good few years of a Pakistani couple who sawed off a guys head in front of a 12 year old girl, as the original judge hadn’t taken account of cultural differences.

      Link?

      • In reply to #56 by PERSON:

        In reply to #42 by RevJimBob:

        It isn’t half as bad as the case this week in the UK of an appeal judge reducing the sentences by a good few years of a Pakistani couple who sawed off a guys head in front of a 12 year old girl, as the original judge hadn’t taken account of cultural differences.

        Link?

        Hi Person,

        I am not Revjimbob, but I can help with that link you asked for.

        It was a BBC News story with an interesting unusual background; read about it here.

  21. Having listened to York University’s side on CBC this morning, I still think that they have made the wrong decision.

    However, I think a compromise can be found….every course sign up should come with a disclaimer that interaction with the opposite sex is expected.

  22. Unfortunalety these kind of accomodations are more and more frequent, even if society is becoming less religious, religious minorities are more and more demanding accomodations. Some people told me that I couldn’t protest, because as an atheist I don’t believe in deities or religion, so I couldn’t be offended. Beliving any religion doesn’t give them any more rights than a non believer. Also, universities are supposed to be secular, at least in Canada. Someone need to get a grip and grow some balls.

  23. The ultimate irony is that it was a Sociology course. The student should have received an automatic fail for this, especially if, as I suspect, he was trying this excuse on as a way of getting out of doing the required coursework.

  24. “It represents a great leap backwards,” said sociology professor J. Paul Grayson. “When I was a student, you couldn’t have gotten away with that — it wouldn’t even have been considered.”

    The issue arose last September in the opening days of SOCI 2030, an online course taught by Mr. Grayson.

    What use is a sociology qualification to a religion hobbled mental cripple, who cannot socialise normally himself, let alone study, advise others, or seek employment involving expertise on social issues?

    Next:- Accommodation and respect for Flat-Earth-beliefs on astrophysics courses???????

  25. This clown should find himself an island in the middle of the ocean and hide there so that the rest of the planet does not have to put up with him.
    I can image how any of my profs at Clemson
    would have reacted.

  26. The question for me is who is the person or are the people driving this? I’m guessing the diversity officer and maybe some people in the SU. Which university rules are they citing? Who instituted those? Who in the university management is supporting or encouraging their position? They should be at the centre of this, not the lecturer.

    It’s kind of obvious, I suppose, but it’s worth mentioning that this is York, Canada, not York, UK.

  27. Just a thought……I wonder if Pastafarians have similar weighty issues with the mixing of spaghetti with fusilli, macaroni, etc. Afterall, I’m not sure where the FSM stands on the commingling of noodles and other pasta types.

    Seriously, once again, someone is using a well-intentioned tool to exploit a silly situation.

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