I'm searching both sites but can't find an article on either! York University is being scrutinized right now for a student who requested to not have to meet with female students due to his religious beliefs. His professor denied the request (in September) and the dean of arts overturned that denial; technically not in time, so the student had to meet with women (OH, POOR HIM), but officially the university has said his religious request should have been met because there was no "practical harm" to women that would have resulted from the accommodation.
"Meet with" students was confusing to me - apparently this male student was taking a sociology (LOLOLOL) course online and had to meet with a group of peers to complete an assignment, hence the request.
I am trying to find some sort of critical/feminist interpretation of this event and decision, but all I can find is bare-bones newspaper articles and a lot of denouncing on behalf of government officials (today Peter McKay jumped on). What?! Is it unreasonable for me to think this is ridiculous?
They are arguing that because he signed up online he could have reasonably expected to not have to come into contact with women, so this wouldn't necessarily apply to students in a physical classroom requiring the same exemption. Right. Good luck with that one.
I guess what I would personally argue is that catering to this request at all is itself a harm to women. BUT. This is a quick reaction from me, based on zero knowledge of this religious requirement and only knowing about this event for maybe half an hour.
Has this been discussed anywhere? If not, do you have thoughts on it? What should come first - supposedly "abstract" rules against this type of gender segregation, or the requirements of someone's religion?
Edit for clarification: The quote provided by the professor, from the student: "due to my firm religious beliefs … it will not be possible for me to meet in public with a group of women."
Edit 2: More info!
"The school's human rights centre agreed with the dean. But on Oct. 9, the sociology department sided with Dr. Grayson, passing a motion stating, "Whereas it is recognized that York recognizes diversity, be it resolved that academic accommodations for students will not be made if they contribute to material or symbolic marginalizations of other students, faculty or teaching assistants.""
"The dean's office told the student if he wished to drop the course, the fee would be refunded. But less than a week later, the student told Dr. Grayson he would "respect the final decision" to deny the request, was pleased with the way it had been handled, and has since met with his learning group. Even so, York has not changed its stand."
THIS IS SO WEIRD.