TRU prof loses human rights case over alleged discrimination of South Asian students | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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TRU prof loses human rights case over alleged discrimination of South Asian students


A Kamloops law professor, who argued that Thompson Rivers University discriminated against South Asian law students because it has the most expensive tuition in the B.C., has lost a human rights case against the province.

Thompson Rivers University professor Craig Jones launched the case on behalf of the university's law students against the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training.

He argued that as South Asian law students are overrepresented at the university's law school, and tuition is roughly double of other law schools, the government's funding model unfairly discriminated against those students.

Jones argued the province had created a two-tier education system in which the disparity "perpetuates and exacerbates" South Asian law students’ historical disadvantages in accessing legal education and becoming lawyers.

However, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal dismissed his argument.

According to a March 7 tribunal decision, Jones, who teaches law at Thompson Rivers University, called 10 witnesses to testify in the case.

The government called eight witnesses, and the 10,000 word decision goes into lengthy details about the funding of the law school.

TRU law school was founded in 2011 and costs students roughly $22,000 per year.

The other two law schools in B.C., the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria charge $13,000 or $11,000 respectively. Both were founded decades before TRU's law program.

While Jones accused the province of discrimination, the Tribunal ruled he'd launched the case against the wrong party in the first place.

READ MORE: TRU vice-president 'exonerated' after misconduct investigation

The Tribunal said the Ministry of Education isn't a service provider of university programs so therefore its conduct couldn't result in discrimination.

It points out that while it doesn't need to decide if TRU's law program is discriminatory – because the case was against the province – it would do so anyway.

However, the Tribunal ruled that it would dismiss the case anyhow because Jones hadn't established a connection between students paying higher tuition at TRU and their race.

"The Students admitted evidence related to the numbers of South Asian law students at Thompson Rivers University and other law schools in B.C., and evidence related to historical disadvantages South Asian people have faced in accessing legal education and the legal professional generally," the Tribunal ruled. "However, they do not advance any theory as to why South Asian students are overrepresented at Thompson Rivers University, and I find that their evidence does not support any explanation that would allow me to find a connection between adverse impact and race."

READ MORE: TRU whistleblowers start fundraiser to fight defamation suit

Ultimately the case was dismissed.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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