Dalhousie dentistry student calls restorative justice plan 'shocking'

A fourth-year dentistry student at Dalhousie University in Halifax says the restorative justice solution put forward by Dalhousie's administration, after misogynistic posts were made by several male students on Facebook, is unacceptable, and she and her father want an investigation.

Nova Scotia health minister could block licensing process

Anger over Dalhousie University's response to Facebook scandal on campus 2:40

A fourth-year dentistry student at Dalhousie University in Halifax says the restorative justice solution put forward by Dalhousie's administration,after misogynistic posts were made by several male students on Facebook, is unacceptable, and she and her father want an investigation.

The 25-year-old woman, whom CBC News has agreed not to identify, says she's mentioned in screen shots taken of the so-called Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen Facebook page.

"It feels shocking to be asked to discipline my own peers. That's not my job. It's good that they're asking for our input but ... we don't know all the facts. How can we be asked to make a decision based on partial information about our peers? It's very, very hard," she said. 

"We work with them every day; we've worked with them for four years. We just need someone who's impartial to maybe help us get through this, or figure it out."

She said the university is putting a lot on students at a crucial time at the end of term.

"I think as an institution it's Dalhousie's job to make a safe learning environment for all of its students regardless of what the issue is now. Take some leadership, take some initiative, prevent these issues from happening."

Health minister mulls options

Nova Scotia Health Minister Leo Glavine said he has confidence in the restorative justice process. 

"It's a very disturbing event that has taken place here," he said Thursday. 

The province could move to block students from getting a licence to practice, as it controls seven of the 14 seats on the Dental Board of Nova Scotia, the province's licensing agency.  

"That's a stage that I'm absolutely prepared to address as this unfolds in the coming weeks," Glavine said. "It really is premature to present to the board what I, as the minister, may see fit. I want to see first and foremost the restorative justice process run its course."

In one of the posts, male students in the group voted on which woman they'd like to have "hate" sex with and joked about using chloroform on women.

In a post dated May 2013, a member defines a penis as "the tool used to wean and convert lesbians and virgins into useful, productive members of society."

The screen shots were provided to CBC News before the page was taken down last week.

The woman says she was not consulted by the university’s administration before the restorative justice decision was made.

"I’m frustrated. It’s unacceptable. It’s not representative," she said.

Her father, whose identity CBC News has also agreed to protect, is also upset.

Calling for a 3rd-party investigation

"I find the president’s response to this crisis in the Dal community to be absolutely inappropriate, ineffective, and not truthful. To my knowledge, he has spoken to two of the young dental female candidates — there are at least 20-plus to my knowledge, many of whom do not know the circumstances and the content of the offensive Facebook pages that are an issue," he said.

He said this puts the women in the program "in the very awkward position — being worried about their grades, about their exams, about their graduation, and about the repercussions that any active opposition to the president's proposed strategy will have on their specific and individual life and career."

The man says he’s outraged, and that the university has the responsibility to "take swift, decisive action to root out the apparent culture of disrespect for young women and provide a meaningful response.

"I’m just absolutely shocked at their strategy, at theirresponse. From my perspective it’s ineffective, it’s inappropriate, and an independent, third-party, arm’s-length investigation needs to happen."

'Touchy-feely restorative justice ... not the answer'

The man said he sent a letter to Dalhousie president Richard Florizone on Wednesday, but has yet to hear a response.

He also said it’s not for him to say whether these men should be expelled.

"I don’t have all the facts. I understand their careers are on the line, I understand they have a significant financial investment in their education and in their future careers," he said.

"I think, as I said, that procedural fairness has to not have a knee-jerk reaction to this, but something has to be done because school starts again in two weeks and the female students are going to be back in the clinic with the male perpetrators and that is not going to be a healthy learning environment."


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