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CAUT Bulletin Archives

May 2008

York: Ontario Human Rights Commission to Determine Fate of Holiday Policy

An investigator with the Ontario Human Rights Commission has filed her case report in a complaint involving York University’s decades-long practice of cancelling classes on Jewish holidays.

York professor David Noble went to the commission only after complaining for years to university officials that the practice is unfair and discriminates against him and students who aren’t of the Jewish faith.

“The university’s practice of not scheduling classes on Jewish high holy days clearly results in differential treatment on the basis of creed, in that individuals in one group (those of Jewish faith) are given preferential treatment over others,” the investigator’s report says.

Noble told the investigator that after news of his objections became public knowledge, he was harassed by work colleagues and students who were outraged at “his purported betrayal of his ‘fellow Jews’.” Noble said he complained twice to York security about threats and aggressive behaviour of a particularly hostile Jewish student.

After the investigator’s report was released in late March, several media outlets reported incorrectly that the commission had ruled in Noble’s favour. In fact, the report is only the first step in the investigation and the case has not yet come before the commissioners for a decision.

By law, the commission is required to receive and investigate all complaints filed as well as try to settle them at any stage in the process.