Tag Archives: York University

Canadian Student Groups Fined For Protesting

Four student groups at York University in Canada were fined for disrupting classes during their attempts to shout one another down over the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Their yelling and screaming made it impossible for professors and their students to function. A York official commented: “considering students had been out for 12 weeks(during a strike) and some were sitting mid-term tests,” this kind of disruption was the last thing they needed. The university is also investigating complaints that a student engaged in anti-semitic comments towards a group of his fellow students.

The issue of the right of students to protest is among the most critical for the intellectual life of a university. The essence of an open forum to debate and discuss issues is vital if universities fulfill their obligation to be open to all views. However, engaging in shouting matches while other students are attempting to learn violates their right to gain knowledge. Perhaps, the best solution is to compel the pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups to engage in a week long series of debates.

Cancel Classes On Religious Holidays?

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.