A York University professor is refusing to let a student skip a group project because there are too many women involved in it -- a decision that is reportedly not sitting well with school administration.
J. Paul Grayson, who teaches a sociology course online, told the National Post such segregation "represents a great leap backwards."
"When I was a student, you couldn’t have gotten away with that — it wouldn’t even have been considered.”
The student, who is not being named for privacy matters, cited religious reasons when he made the request last September, according to the Post.
"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," 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."
Grayson denied the request, penning a 12-page paper outlining his rationale, the Globe and Mail reports -- notably, the professor didn't want to be an "accessory to sexism." In a follow-up letter to the school's Centre for Human Rights, Grayson wrote, "I doubt that we would sanction a student refusing, for religious reasons, to interact with Blacks in classes even though Biblical justification could be found."
Nevertheless, the university administration has overturned Grayson's decision, recommending that he make concessions for the student.
After all, accommodations had already been made for other students who were studying abroad -- they were permitted to complete an alternative assignment, the Toronto Star reports.
"I think Mr. X must be accommodated in exactly the same way as the distant student has been," the newspaper reports, citing the vice dean's letter to Grayson.
Grayson, however, sees it as a case of religious rights clashing with women's rights -- and the former coming out on top.
"In order to meet an instance of a religious requirement we have tacitly accepted a negative definition of females," Grayson told the Star. "That's not acceptable."
The student in question has subsequently told Grayson that he respects his decision -- and has since met with the group, despite the preponderance of women, the Globe reports.
The university, on the other hand, has maintained its position.
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