Thursday, October 22, 2009

Canadian Court Dismisses Graduate Student's Religious Discrimination Claim

In Maughan v. University of British Columbia, (BC Ct. App., Oct. 20, 2009), the Brisish Columbia Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court that a graduate student at UBC had not shown that tensions between her and her English professor resulted from religious discrimination. Cynthia Maughan, an Anglican student in her mid-40's, pursuing an M.A. in English, received a low grade in Dr. Wier's seminar on "The Proper: From Derrida to Delgamuukw." Her primary complaint revolved around an incident in the seminar when she argued a passage from a Derrida text comparing the Holy Eucharist to "mystical cannibalism" was a misinterpretation of the Bible. Other students strongly defended Derrida, and Maughan described those exchages as "shocking" and the passage as "intense sacrilege." The Court of Appeal, dismissing her claims for negligence and breach of British Columbia's Civil Rights Protection Act, concluded: "In our view, Ms. Maughan’s claim is not based on the evidence per se, but on her interpretation of the evidence and the inferences she drew from the evidence founded on her firm conviction that she was subjected to discriminatory treatment by the respondents on the basis of her religion." Xtra West reported on the decision yesterday.