Christian student's lawsuit against UBC going to trial

A UBC graduate student's lawsuit claiming the university and four professors trampled her civil rights is heading to trial.

Cynthia Maughan, 44, filed the suit last year alleging a year-long pattern of religious and ethnic discrimination against her because of her Christian beliefs.

She is seeking $18 million in damages.

Maughan, an Anglican, was taking an English course taught by Prof. Lorraine Weir in March 2001.

Maughan refused to attend a Sunday seminar in the home of a classmate who disparaged Christians in a 2000 e-mail by claiming then-Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day "makes me recall fondly a time period when Christians were stoned."

A University of B.C. Senate committee in April 2002 concluded Weir and certain other professors "had mounted an irrelevant and unseemly attack on Cynthia's character and religion," her lawyer Gerald Chipeur said yesterday.

"The UBC Senate said that the English Department's conduct, 'Embarrassed the university and descended well beneath the current standards of Charter [of Rights and Freedoms] values.'"

Three other professors are named as defendants.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled the necessary elements of Maughan's claim, brought under the province's Civil Rights Protection Act, were made out.

Lawyers for the two sides will now begin preparing for the discovery stage. No date has been set.