Widespread criticism resulted after a history professor at Memorial University in Canada, refused to wear a third-year student’s FM transmitter in a lecture, citing religious reasons for her stance. In 1996, the same professor secured an exemption from the university from wearing a FM transmitter for a past student, who has spoken publicly about the incident.
Meantime, current history major student William Sears, made a formal complaint against the university and to the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission, saying:
“When she said she would not wear the FM system [in class], it was effectively saying to me ‘I will not teach you’ — because I need that FM system… to hear the instructor.”
Past Objections In 1985 And 1996
News reports indicate that the professor produced the 1996 settlement agreement in an interview with local entity, NTV News, which exempt her from wearing a FM transmitter for students with hearing issues. Notably, the agreement stipulates that the university must provide a portable stand for the device, with the professor lecturing near the stand.
While the university said it deeply regretted the incident and would review the 1996 settlement agreement with the professor, the professor said that her lectures mixed class discussions with multimedia presentations. Accordingly, she posited, the student [Sears] would have been “at a complete disadvantage” if she alone had worn the transmitter.
Sears, the student in the current controversy, has switched courses at MUN as reactions continue on social media, and multiple agencies review the matter. Interestingly, the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI), advises that no academic evidence exists to suggest that the FM technology might conflict with the professor’s faith.