Requirement or discrimination? You be the judge.

schoolMany universities require students to fulfil academic requirements also referred to as prerequisites in order to obtain their degrees. Successful completion of these courses is meant to prepare the student for success in their career choices. Although many individuals find the experience unnecessary and even frustrating, few would argue that it is a discriminatory. However, James Lewicki did just that – what is your opinion?

James Lewicki suffers from dyslexia, which presents challenges for him to learn new languages. When Lewicki applied to the University of Ottawa for a masters in political science he was surprised to learn that the degree required him to take a French class. Lewicki argued that English was challenging enough for him to learn and French would be next to impossible to learn. He offered to take the course with a translator but such accommodation was not permissible.

Officials advised Lewicki to pursue a different area of study, preferably one with less of a focus on French. Canada is heavily rooted in its use of bilingualism especially in respect to political issues and personalities. Political debates among Parliamentary candidates running for Prime Minister are also carried out in French along with English. Children are taught French in elementary school through grade 9 as a requirement to graduate.

Every_Canadian_Needs_A_CopyLewicki is suggesting his human rights have been violated. Lewicki is arguing that he is a victim of discrimination due to his disability. He believes the school is being unreasonable in not accommodating him as only English speaking students are required to take French courses but French speaking students are not required to take English courses as prerequisites. Lewicki feels that the school’s refusal to accommodate him is a method to tell him to “go somewhere else”.

Conversely, the school argues that he not being restricted from pursuing his masters in political science at the University of Ottawa due to his disability but rather because he fails to meet the requirements – a working knowledge of French and being able to take a course in French. Officials argue that this tradition has been in place for decades before this case arose. Supporters of this mindset suggest that the school’s traditions should be honored and Lewicki should attend another university.

Advocates for Lewicki’s case argue that the school is being inflexible and should accommodate his case. Furthermore, they argue that his human rights are being trumped due to discrimination based on his disability. Lewicki has found support with individuals who argue that the school’s accommodation would address an ongoing issue of discrimination and help bring about a positive change for others in similar situations.

What are your thoughts? Should he be accommodated for?
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