Reasonable accommodation at York is not a slippery slope

The request for religious accommodation by a York University student sparked an active debate in the media. The following offers a sampling of the numerous reports that appeared in the media:

Reasonable accommodation at York is not a slippery slope
Here are the three things you need to know about last week’s teapot-scale tempest at Toronto’s York University: It is not unreasonable for a university student to ask a professor to accommodate his or her religious beliefs; it is not a slippery slope for a university to consider that request; and contrary to the suggestion of federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay, it is not akin to siding with the Taliban for the university to entertain the request and, sometimes, even accommodate it, reported The Globe and Mail Jan. 11. Read full story.

York dean has ‘regret,’ but defends religious-accommodation choice
The dean who approved a York University student’s request not to meet and work with female classmates on religious grounds is defending his decision, but expressing “sincere regret” that he felt he had no other choice, reported The Globe and Mail Jan. 13. Speaking out for the first time in a letter to colleagues, Martin Singer, the dean of York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, says he ordered the student’s request be granted only after “care, consideration and concern.” But a professor’s persistent refusal to heed Singer’s orders has sparked a national debate about the limits of religious accommodation, and a major public backlash against the dean’s decision. Read full story.

York U student’s request to abstain from interacting with women sparks debate 
A York University student’s request to be excused from course work, on the grounds that his religion prevents him from interacting with women, has sparked a human rights debate over how universities should navigate between religious accommodation and human rights, reported Jan. 9. The issue first arose in September when a student in Professor J. Paul Grayson’s online sociology course asked to be excused from meeting in person with classmates for a mandatory assignment. Grayson said he contacted the dean’s office and the University’s Centre for Human Rights after receiving the request because he deemed the demand “too big” to handle himself. Read full story.

See below for regular York in the Media coverage:

TFC pays for Defoe, Bradley in cash and ‘in kind’
TFC paid a reported $10-million transfer fee to England’s Tottenham Hotspur to secure Jermain Defoe, and a similar amount to AS Roma for Michael Bradley’s contract. TFC’s deal with Tottenham also includes a four-year marketing agreement that will see TFC promote the English club’s games and merchandise here in Toronto. . . . “Tottenham is trying to build their brand globally…and MLSE provides the economics of scale they wouldn’t otherwise have access to,” said Vijay Setlur, a sports marketing instructor at York University’s Schulich School of Business, in the Toronto Star Jan. 13. “All they have to do is tap into MLSE’s resources. The avid EPL fan [in Toronto] won’t change allegiances, but the casual fan could potentially adopt Tottenham as their team.” Read full story.

Harper Conservatives spending lots of time in BC lately
From photo-ops to a full-on prime ministerial tour, the federal Conservatives have been paying extra attention to B.C. lately. The reason is pretty simple, according to York University political science Professor Dennis Pilon: “B.C. has been good to them. In the last election, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives were clearly the victors in British Columbia, followed by the New Democrats. They were second in a lot of ridings they didn’t actually win. They’re looking pretty solid.” Pilon believes the Tories are making a very calculated effort to remind British Columbians that they are not being taken for granted, reported News1130 Jan. 13. Read full story.

Canadian initiatives to support mental health
Grand Challenges Canada, an organization funded by the government of Canada, has announced it is to fund three key initiatives relating to global mental health issues, reported Digital Journal Jan. 12. . . . Of the three projects, the first is a community-based mental health intervention for maternal mental health in Rwanda, which is being administered by York University. This project tests an affordable, community-based way to improve mental health among women and children in Rwanda. Nursing and midwife students will receive training in mental health issues. Lay home-visitors will be trained to support new mothers, mothers will be surveyed via mobile phone to evaluate the help received and identify mothers who need referrals for depression and to lower rates of childhood malnutrition. Read full story.

Thinking beyond ourselves: The ‘crisis’ in academic work
“In the past few weeks some interesting and contentious threads of discussion have been unwinding on ‘Academic Twitter’, in particular one that’s focused on the current conditions of the academic job market in the United States,” wrote York University PhD candidate Melonie Fullick in University Affairs Jan. 10. “The difficulty of the job market (and the stratification of its participants) is too often framed as a ‘new’ thing. Rather than assuming this is something novel, I’d suggest that there was never an adequate level of discussion in the first place. The current quandary has been building for over 30 years, for my entire lifetime – to the point where we even have a whole field of inquiry dedicated to critiquing the changes happening in academe.” Read full story.