An Ontario Human Rights investigation has concluded that that York University’s long-standing practice of cancelling clases on Jewish holidays discriminates against students of other religions. The report vindicates a crusade by David Noble, a York University history professor, who has argued for years the practice discriminates against students of other religions. “This is fantastic,” said Noble. “It’s just too bad it took four years to have a third party confirm that this is an illegal practice.” Noble is a non-observant Jew. The university 34 years ago began cancelling clases for the two days of Rosh Hashanah and one day of Yom Kippur.
A recent report by York professor Thomas Klassen reveals York University’s 53,000 student population is 5.8% Jewish, 4.8% Muslim, 34.9% Catholic, 22.1% Protestant, 3.6% Hindu, 2.1% Buddhist, 2% Sikh as well as other religions. The report to the Human Rights Commission concludes the practice violates the Ontario Human Rights Code’s protection against discrimination based on an individual’s creed.
As universities become more ethnically and religiously diverse, it may well be time to rethink practices which concern closing for religious holidays.