Unaccommodating at York

Yet another controversy has sprung up at York University ― this one about religious accommodation. A male student, citing his religious beliefs, requested that a professor exempt him from participating in group projects where he’d have to meet in public with women.

The professor rejected the student’s request, going so far as to consult religious experts about the student’s legitimacy. Despite the fact that the student relented and accepted the professor’s judgement, the university administration is accusing the professor of not properly accommodating the student.

The university administration isn’t in an enviable position here as they have to balance the desires of many different stakeholders. Their basic position ― that accommodating the student would have been easy and wouldn’t have caused significant harm ― is understandable, but ultimately misguided.

The professor is right to be concerned about the principle at stake in this situation.

Would such a request even be thinkable if the student had expressed concern about working with Asian people or gay men? Such requests have to be rejected on principle.

It’s not clear why the professor’s consultation of religious experts is relevant at all, as, depending on interpretation, religious texts could theoretically provide justification for all manner of abhorrent things.

The type of mutated political correctness that sometimes motivates university administrators should be removed from all public institutions. If a given individual or group desires gender segregation in post-secondary education, then such conditions must be relegated to private educational institutions.

Some tendencies are simply incompatible with Canada’s democratic values. Rights should be balanced, but inevitably there are limits.

There’s still a lot to be discovered and discussed about in relation to this case at York. Nevertheless, we know enough to take a stand against a precedent that carries the potential for great harm.

―Journal Editorial Board

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