Prof Loses Human Rights Challenge Against York U

Published: April 26th 2010
in News » Local

York University
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The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has thrown out a case brought by a York University history professor alleging that the university targeted him for protesting its policy of cancelling classes on the High Holidays.


David Noble, a professor who teaches in the Department of Social and Political Thought at York, claimed that the university had purposely given him sparsely attended Friday afternoon classes in retaliation after he criticized its policy of not holding classes during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Noble, who is Jewish, had threatened to hold classes on Jewish holidays in protest. He eventually cancelled classes on all Muslim holidays instead. In 2006, he initiated a human rights complaint over the issue.


Last fall, York reversed its High Holidays policy, which had been in place since 1974. Classes now go on as scheduled.


On Friday, adjudicator Michael Gottheil released a 32-page decision. He concluded that he could not find any evidence to back up Noble’s claims that the university was purposely ostracizing him by forcing him to teach unpopular Friday classes.


“York University is pleased we were completely successful in defending our position,” York spokesperson Keith Marnoch told Shalom Life


Marnoch added that it was especially important for York to take part in the tribunal in order to defend the charges it faced.


“It was recognized in the tribunal that York had an obligation to speak out on behalf of members of our community,” he said.


The adjudicator also threw out Noble’s claim that in 2005 York told the professor they would retaliate against him if he held classes on Jewish holidays.


Gottheil ruled that York was not acting maliciously when it did not intercede following a disruption in Noble’s class caused by a student protesting his opposition to the university’s High Holidays statute.


Likewise, Gottheil concluded that he could find no validity to Noble’s charge that York struck back at the professor by issuing a press release defending itself against a controversial pamphlet Noble distributed at a campus event. The pamphlet, entitled "The York University Foundation: The Tail That Wags the Dog (Suggestions for Further Research),"attacked the influence of what Noble termed the “Israeli lobby” on the fundraising of York’s foundation, which he called the “tail”. In the flyer, Noble claimed that a “pro-Zionist” influence drove the political direction of York officials, who had the ability to “wag the dog.”


Related articles: (York University, York, David Noble, anti-Zionist, Israel lobby, high holidays, human rights tribunal)

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