QUOTED: U of T student Wongene Daniel Kim, on why he went to the Human Rights Tribunal to avoid going to class with women
“I felt anxiety; I didn’t expect it would be all women and it was a small classroom and about 40 women were sort of sitting in a semicircle and the thought of spending two hours every week sitting there for the next four months was overwhelming.”
Last month, York University came under criticism for its attempts to accommodate a student who asked to be excused, on religious grounds, from doing group work with women. Twenty-year-old Wongene Daniel Kim went one better: according to the Star, the University of Toronto student took his school to the Human Rights Tribunal in an attempt to get himself exempted from attending a class in which he was the only male, simply because all the women were too scary for him. His complaint was dismissed. The class? Women and Gender Studies.
37 thoughts on “QUOTED: U of T student Wongene Daniel Kim, on why he went to the Human Rights Tribunal to avoid going to class with women”
If a bunch of women sitting in a classroom is too scary for you, maybe you should stay home!
I am appalled. I’m a female engineering student and I’ve never once complained about studying with the reptiles in the reptile room at the zoo.
I really want to be sympathetic and understanding of students who find themselves outnumbered, however in this case I cannot. Any visible minority has felt this same anxiety when they are outnumbered? Remember segregation in the US? Women in the medical and engineering fields? Gay and lesbian students in almost every elementary, secondary, and graduate school?
It’s time to show up and be counted – not stay home and feel comfortable not participating in the diversity of society.
This student will have bigger worries in the future workplace than what the gender makeup of his classroom currently looks like.
Lucy you need to focus in teamwork. How can we move forward if we don’t work together!? What do think moves us forward? It is teamwork and hopefully together we can all make a difference, as a team.
Thanks, Budgreen! I think we all need a little positive encouragement.
Yeah, when I was in college the thought of being around a bunch of women as the only guy was pretty much the best thing I could have imagined.
… or at least not sign up for a women and gender studies class!!!
Uh, okay then Mr. Kim, if it was so overwhelming, then why didn’t you just drop the class and follow the procedures like everyone else in university does when they have to drop courses for a variety of reasons…though I’m guessing most of them don’t involve “shyness”.
As for all the women being too scary? Hey, they’re people, not monsters. If you can’t relate to someone without having to worry about their gender, you’ve got some serious emotional issues that definitely need therapy.
Is that the entire article? LOL…okay? How am I suppose to have an opinion after reading three sentences? Still not even totally sure what this is about. Maybe I’m missing a link?
I completely agree with the reptilian atmosphere. The fellow students in our faculty seem to perspire at such a high rate, the humidity within the lecture halls rises at alarming rates.
Perhaps if we work as a team, we can work towards a sustainable lecture environment including one of a comfortable humidity.
This is absolutely ridiculous. Human rights laws in Ontario foster EQUALITY. To eliminate discrimination in virtually every circumstance; including discrimination based on gender. If this was a racial issue (e.g. the student was to refuse to work in a class that was overwhelmingly one ethnicity because they “weren’t comfortable”) then this would have sparked an outrage. It defies logic.
The university is not at fault here. If 39 females and one male signed up for the same class… then no matter what happens… he’s still going to be the only male in the class. Furthermore, I’m surprised that he even got into university. The human race in its very nature is about half and half, between men and women. To be “scared” of women will impair you in doing even the most basic of things. Let alone the rigorous prerequisites for University admission.
I have zero sympathy for this guy.
Also, I’m a fashion student who, at one point, was the only male in a class of over 50 students. It really didn’t affect me at all… because really, in college, quite a bit of time of a given class is a lecture. So even if I was “uncomfortable” with my surroundings, it’s not like we were spending much time interacting anyhow.
hold on… hes in a class full of ALL CHICKS!! and hes scared. I got some bad news for you bro
It’s kind of a brilliant act of political trolling if that’s, in fact, what his motivation was, because progressive sorts would be trampling over each other to defend the rights of a female student who tried to make the same exact claim about being in a classroom where she was the only female.
Yeah, i guess this one individual’s anxiety disorder doesnt’ count because of segregation.l Good argument.
Discrimination against people with mental health issues often takes the form of “your reason for feeling this way is not a good enough reason from my point of view.” THe classic ‘your life isn’t that bad, snap out of it’ approach to treating depression. Snakes don’t make me anxious at all, but they make some people anxious. Women don’t make me anxious at all, but they make some people anxious.
What makes you anxious is not important because your brain resides in your body, and not his.
The article here does a bad job of explaining what this is about. He was not accommodated for a mental health reason, which he should have been. But he didn’t go to the tribunal for that, he claimed that he was discriminated against because he was a man. His complaint was thrown out because it was made on the basis of gender discrimination. He couldn’t prove that he was discriminated against based on gender. (he probably wasn’t) Had he made the complaint that it was due to mental health, he would have cakewalked it. He was obviously discriminated against because of a severe anxiety disorder that people laughed off as absurd. In the 21st century, discrimination against people with mental issues is still okay. We’ve made basically no progress in the last century on that.
He admitted it was his personal preference, so I don’t know where you get this idea he has anxiety issues. Being shy isn’t anxiety. You also disregarded the fact that he never even gave it a shot to work with the women. Not a single day. He doesn’t have the right to treat them as his subordinates simply because its his preference because he’s shy. That alone is a violation of human rights and that takes precedence over practically everything else including religious rights.
It doesn’t count because it was his flat out admittance that it was his preference. In nowhere does he suggest he has any mental health issues.
Probably from the part where he was so anxious being around a group of women he preferred to stay safely at home. Social anxiety disorder defined.
first: admission. Admittance beings being allowed to go into something. Second, he stated it was his preference not to go to class because he was queasy and nervous. People with anxiety disorders prefer to be in situations that don’t make them queasy.
If someone with an anxiety disorder tells you ‘i prefer to stay in tonight because if i go out i might get hit by a car and my house might burn down” that doesn’t negate the anxiety disorder, it defines it.
Sorry but that doesn’t fly. I’d be more sympathetic if he actually tried a day instead of insisting it was his own personal preference not to participate and then claiming he was docked marks simply because he’s a male. That says more about him thinking he should be treated in a higher regard over them than it does about him being “shy”. Never mind that the class was about gender behavioral studies. That has bullshit written all over it and thankfully others noticed it too. Welcome to the big world.
Excuse me for my autocorrect misinterpreting what I was trying to spell.
I don’t like roller coasters because they make me uneasy. Does that mean I have a disorder? No. That means I don’t like roller coasters. If someone were to say “Black people make me nervous”, is that a disorder? I’m pretty sure that’s defined as something else. Now replace black people with women and tell me what you get.
Especially since the class is called Women and Gender Studies and he goes on to complain that he was docked marks because he’s a male. Give me a break.
If he’s afraid of women then he shouldn’t have signed up for a class about women. He’s lying through his teeth plain and simple.
That’s like saying “if you have a wheelchair, you shouldn’t try to get into buildings, plain and simple.”
Rollercoasters are dangerous rides that accelerate the body and are designed to make you feel anxiety. Being anxious about them does not impact normal functioning in society. Being scared of women does impact normal functioning in society. IF it severely restricts your ability to function, it becomes a disorder. There’s a big difference between an anxiety over crumbs in the bed and the inability to leave your house because it’s not clean enough yet, even though you’ve been cleaning for hours. The difference is one of functioning. If you can’t walk into the room to take the class, there’s a problem. If you go to CAMH and tell the people there suffering from mental disorders to ‘Suck it up and stop lying through their teeth” see how far that gets you. You might win a nobel prize.
His complaint was stupid. but his request for accommodation should have been granted without a second thought. Why didn’t the teacher just let him miss class? I have no idea. I work at UofT in the accessibility services department. This is a pretty pointless scandal since UofTs rules required her to say yes when he asked for accommodation, and to provide him with another way to earn the 15% participation mark. It’s required in the rules. She said no.
Anyone with any phobia, anxiety, bipolar disorder, attention deficit should be able to take any class they want. Even if its women’s studies. It’s a very clearly written policy which states this and makes it obligatory.
I have no idea why he went to the human rights tribunal claiming he was discriminated against because he was a man. Maybe he felt that, I don’t know. but he absolutely 100% was discriminated against based on mental health. Something which, even in the 21st century, we deem acceptable. More than half of people don’t even believe in mental disorders and think people are faking.
I have a theory that he’s faked this as a publicity stunt to boost views on his youtube channel/visibility of his public persona. Some other commenter somewhere else brought it up, but it makes sense. He has thousands of views, and on his channel he makes it pretty clear he’s looking for more, and he knows that gender politics in universities is a topic that makes headlines thanks to the recent York debacle. I know it seems conspiracy theory-ish but I think this kid is working the media.
Did he provide any evidence of his anxiety issues like a note from a therapist perhaps showing that he does indeed suffer from this issue? If so I think that he should have been exempt from class. If not, he has no grounds to base an argument on. All students that wish to be exempt from the normal class syllabus must provide documentation.
Being shy of something is clearly not the same as being physically handicapped. The point of post secondary schools is to further educate and prepare people for the real world and sometimes to survive in the real world you have to do things that make you nervous, otherwise you may face some consequence. And he didn’t like the fact that he did. So the professor did actually accommodate him by not failing him. Some aspects of my career make me uncomfortable like making speeches at seminars during events like Canadian Music Week, NXNE, SXSW, or other events held by the RIAA and whatnot. So instead of me shying away from those situations, I enrolled myself into a toastmasters club. I made an effort to become comfortable, and I now am. We both know what could happen if you can’t or don’t do your job, you get demoted or fired. He doesn’t sound like he’s deathly afraid, because in his interview with the Sun he says he had no issues with working in groups with men and women. I think his professor was right, you don’t put in 100% effort, you don’t deserve 100% returned.
We all get in situations that make us queasy. Doesn’t mean we have an anxiety order.
Nonsense! Pure and utter nonsense!!
You do not get granted a “request for accommodation” for anything you want at UofT simply because you ask for one for whatever reason.
And, no…professors are not “required” to agree to any “request for accommodation” from a student based on whatever a student may come up with…with no right of refusal.
Perhaps you ought to read your own policies again??? You seem to have forgotten what they really say. (Hint: there’s an appeal process for a reason. Why would the right of appeal exist if anyone who asked for an accommodation for any reason had to be given it???)
And, sorry, but there is zero evidence that he was “100% discriminated against based on mental health”.
My gosh. It’s utterly inappropriate to try to “diagnose” someone over the Internet based on 3rd hand reports of what that person said!! Yet that is what you are trying to do. Shame on you.
But, hey. If you are convinced it’s appropriate? Then read his own words!! Read his complaint!!
Like it or not, he doesn’t even claim…not once…that he has a disability…mental illness or otherwise. Good grief. Being “shy” and “preferring” to not be the only man in a room with 40 women is not a mental illness!!!
I work with people with severe and persistent mental illness. Plus I, myself, am a person with a physical disability. And I, personally, find your assertions insulting.
1. Why did you take the class?
The course was called, Studies in Post-Colonialism. I would like to point that people misunderstood the course title as, Women & Gender Studies.
The course description, “Examines gendered representations of race, ethnicity, class, sexuality and disability in a variety of colonial, neo-colonial, and post-colonial contexts. Topics may include the emergence of racialist, feminist, liberatory and neoconservative discourses as inscribed in literary texts, historical documents, cultural artifacts and mass media.”
I took the course because there was a 1st year course that had good reviews from students, published by ASSU Anti-Calender. There was a wait-list for that course and I had a time conflict with another course I was taking. So I found a course that fit my timetable, didn’t need an extra day to commute to the campus and wanted to explore what type of courses were taught in the university. I had looked for other courses, most of the courses offered by the Faculty, but it either had a time conflict with another course or it would require a separate day which would require me to commute there (1 hour), and back resulting in a round-trip (about 2 hours) for just one course! I currently live in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area).
2. How did you imagine the grading scheme to work minus 15 per cent of your mark?
I asked if there were “any alternative ways” to mark the attendance/participation marks such as redistributing the marks to my 3 assignments. People think that I asked the professor to waive the 15 per cent of the mark earned by class participation and attendance. Therefore, I did not ask the professor to receive full marks on attendance/participation.
3. What was your final grade in the course?
NCR (No credit received). I had taken the course as a CR/NCR, which does not involve an actual grade in the final mark.
4. What was your experience like in the class(es) that you attended? How many classes did you attend?
I do not have any problem being around women, or that the class was a semicircle. It was not that I did not want to interact with the other students because they are women but the lecture had a prominent discussion about feminism movement, than the course description described it as, which left me rather disappointed.
I attended a few, but not the full length.
5. How did you receive your grades?
Pretty much all courses update the marks online, called Blackboard. She gave the assignments 6 days before the drop date deadline, and I had been waiting for the course blackboard to update. I had been taking other courses at the time, so it wasn’t my only concern. The course drop date deadline was on the weekend, so I found it inappropriate to meet with her. I was also medically sick on the weekend.
6. When did you speak to your professor about the issue?
In the beginning of the course, and at the end of the course. I had been communicating with the professor during the course, through email, such as signing up for a keyword for the 1st assignment. The marks being updated online was found out much later.
7. What was the process like with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal?
I did not receive an actual hearing, so basically the application was filed through email, and I had a tele-conference.
There was this controversial decision, when compared to mine, that the university agreed with a woman (or a group of women) to open a private swim times with the windows and door windows blocked off so no men can see them.
When bringing the issue of “equal” rights on both issues, I think that we can’t have one way or the other. In this case, if the university provided this “accommodation” then isn’t it contradictory? If they felt uncomfortable then they should have stayed home. Swimming isn’t essential to life like having to go to the wash-room, therefore, it is just a “preference.” The university emphasizes that safety is the reason for the accommodation to have a private swim times for women. I don’t think that the risk of any danger is high enough for this accommodation, as swimming isn’t essential so they should just stay home, not that I have any problem with having a private swim times.
Safety and shyness are not the same. Woman wanting to exercise/swim in a place where she is not watched by men is not shyness but isn’t it really a preference which the HRTO doesn’t approve either? If it is really safety, then couldn’t people who want to lose weight, because of obesity, want their own swimming hours so that they can reduce the health risks of obesity?
Keep chatting though. In 6 months, he will buy himself a BMW for all the publicity you are giving him.
1. How is everyone affected? I see some U of T users…please express your feeble opinion via turnitin.
2. He isn’t your dad, nor your brother….or husband. AND, he isn’t paying your bills. How is this affecting you again?
3. I’m a female and I would hate a group of all females….extremely overwhelming.
4. Same goes for the U of T prof who got bashed for his preference for male writers…His salary is 150K+ and it won’t decrease after your comments. To all the students protesting against it. LOL, go protest for a decrease in tuition fees instead. Stop acting like it is genuinely affecting you and your life.
5. Why is everyone here acting a smart-a** for? If you have something to say, say it to him.
6. Thats 2,000 he lost for failing the course as well as expenses… and a waste of a year. I’ve seen so many people get away with switching tutorials and tutorial times because a) the TA is cute b) they want to suck d*&! in the evenings. And, hacking blackboard to change grades, sleeping with the teacher, blah blah. Aren’t there bigger “injustices” on campus that MAY be affecting your life? He just wanted a passing grade….I’m sure we all do. Sorry, not all of us have Mr. Banker Daddy to cover our costs.
7. Shouldn’t we be worrying about gas prices instead?
I give credit to the kid. Good for him…..At least he can make the money in his 15 minutes of fame that we will make in 4 years….
The fact that you found the name of the course misleading is irrelevant. You could have withdrawn and that would have been the end of it. However, you chose to continue without attending classes – thus forfeiting 15% of your marks. Had your other work been up to snuff, you still could have passed the course, but I have seen some examples of your writing here and I suspect that what you handed in to your prof was of equally poor quality. Having made a conscious decision NOT to attend classes, the onus was on YOU to find a way to meet regularly with the prof and get feedback – not the other way around. As someone who has been teaching longer than you have been on the planet, I know a bad student with a sense of entitlement when I see one. You need to get into the real world and join the rest of the human race. Stop blaming other people for the result you get when you fail to do your work.
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