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Canada: Your taxes at work — ‘accommodating’ faith-based misogyny

January 11, 2014

A York University student who refused to do group work with women for religious reasons has sparked a human rights tug-of-war between a professor and campus administration.

While the professor wanted to deny the student’s request, a university dean ordered him to comply….

The brouhaha began in September when a student in an online sociology class emailed Grayson about the class’s only in-person requirement: a student-run focus group.

“One of the main reasons that I have chosen internet courses to complete my BA is due to my firm religious beliefs,” the student wrote. “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.”

While Grayson’s gut reaction was to deny the request, he forwarded the email to the faculty’s dean and the director for the centre for human rights.

Their response shocked him; the student’s request was permitted.

The Star

Time for a new course prerequisite: ‘Applicants must be rational, functioning human beings’?

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4 Comments
  1. Jon permalink

    But with the exception of 4., all your potential reasons fall under the same heading: someone refusing to fulfil the obligations that he knew in advance would be required of him in order to successfully complete his course. If he had opted not to do the course in advance then any of these might have been given as a valid reason; but once having made a commitment he is obliged to either put up with the known issues regarding the course and the institution, or simply withdraw, not to insist that the rules be rewritten specifically for his benefit. (And to his credit, the student seems to have backed down quite amicably; one wonders if his protest may have been due to parental pressure rather than personal choice).

    Point 4 is fair enough, but given that this was primarily an online course, and only a small number of face-to-face meetings were required, I find it hard to believe there was no other institution which could have provided him the same opportunities.

    Since irrational religious beliefs are responsible for the vast majority of misogynistic attitudes and behaviour on our planet, and that this was explicitly described as a matter of ‘faith’, I still regard that as a much more likely explanation of his protest than any rational thought.

  2. You’re right to point out I haven’t addressed the question at hand, so I’ll do that now.

    1. The focus group project need not be accomplished as a group endeavor. Group projects tend to dilute the excellence of the best group members and provide cover for the least.
    2. Despite claims to the contrary, people decline participation in group projects for a large host of reasons, many of which – sans a claim for a supernatural deity – may be described as a matter of conscience.
    3. I would not wish to be erroneously associated with persons I did not freely choose. He may have this opinion of the women with whom he is schooled.
    4. Many regions lack substantial choice regarding educational opportunities. The nearest professional school for my profession is 3 hours distant even though I live in a major metro area and capitol with several interstate highways intersecting. He may be faced with the same lack of choice.
    5. Others documented harrassment of men at Canadian university campuses, including York. He may fear harassment.
    6. Religion may be a convenient legal cover for all the above, where the arguments would otherwise be labeled misogynist or “irrational and non-functioning.”

  3. Jon permalink

    A reasonable man (or, indeed, woman) might agitate for the same services to be provided to male students as to female students. A slightly less reasonable man might apply to a different university instead. But I can’t see any ‘reason’ at all in attempting to dodge a perfectly normal course requirement which was presumably made clear to all enrolling students.

  4. Some inconvenient facts regarding York University.

    The school is about 60% female.
    The school offers “bridging” programs to women, and not to men.
    The school maintains “women’s only” schedule for recreation facilities. There is no schedule for men.
    The school hosts a center for women and trans people. There is no similar men’s center.
    The school’s student union position for “women’s officer” has no male counterpart.
    York University is the birthplace of the “slut walk.”

    A reasonable man might seek to avoid contact with women enrolled at such a university, but find himself obliged to obtain a degree from the university.

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