“It represents a great leap backwards,” said sociology professor J. Paul Grayson. “When I was a student, you couldn’t have gotten away with that — it wouldn’t even have been considered.”

The issue arose last September in the opening days of SOCI 2030, an online course taught by Mr. Grayson.

A student, who remains nameless due to privacy reasons, asked to be counted out of a scheduled group project due to the course’s heavy preponderance of female students.

“One of the main reasons that I have chosen internet courses to complete my BA is due to my firm religious beliefs, and part of that is the intermingling between men and women,” he wrote, adding “it will not be possible for me to meet in public with a group of women (the majority of my group) to complete some of these tasks.”