York University says professor’s comments to student do not reflect the school’s values

A student wearing a face mask walks at York University in Toronto, Canada, on Oct. 20, 2020. Zou Zheng/Xinhua via ZUMA Press

TORONTO — York University says it has taken “appropriate actions” after insensitive emails allegedly sent by an instructor to a student were made public.

In the messages, posted on Reddit and Twitter, an unnamed student based in Myanmar asks for accommodations to be made for an upcoming exam because of the ongoing political violence in the southeast Asian country.

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The student explains to the professor in one of the emails that they may not have access to the Internet as the leaders of a military coup in Myanmar are limiting access to communications.

The math instructor excuses the student from an assignment but warns that “the next time you miss something, it’s over.”

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The professor then says he wonders if the student understands reality, adding “people don’t get shot for just protesting, but for a lot deeper reasons.”

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York University did not immediately confirm the authenticity of the screenshots, but said in a statement that the math instructor’s comments do not reflect the school’s values of “respect, equity, diversity, and inclusion.”

A subsequent statement said university staff are “taking steps to address the matter under the relevant collective agreement, and further, effective immediately, alternate arrangements for the teaching of the course have been made.”

York says that the faculty was able to make direct contact with the student in Myanmar and assure them that necessary accommodations would be granted.

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