Dalhousie University's president has broken his silence on social media after four members of the institution's faculty filed formal complaints following the Faculty of Dentistry's misogynistic Facebook posts scandal.
The faculty members have made a formal complaint under the Halifax university's Code of Student Conduct. The professors are protesting the class of 2015 DDS Gentlemen's Club Facebook group, which posted misogynistic and degrading comments about women.
Anyone can make a complaint under the code whether they were the subject of sexual harassment or not.
Dalhousie president Richard Florizone returned to Twitter Monday for the first time since the story broke last week, and in a series of 11 posts apologized for his absence on social media. In his tweets, he said, "This complex issue is part of a wider societal discussion."
He went on to say, "We respect those seeking immediate action, but we are committed to ensuring a just process. There will be significant consequences."
He reiterated that expulsion of the men involved has not been ruled out.
Florizone also directed those with questions about restorative justice to submit their questions online.
Also, the university announced Monday that public dental clinics, scheduled to reopen Jan. 5, have been postponed until Jan. 12.
University expects to find 'systemic issues'
The university is also asking students "harmed" by misogynistic comments posted on the DDS Gentlemen's Club Facebook page to provide feedback.
It says it expects to find "systemic issues."
CBC News has obtained the questionnaire sent to the students on Friday evening. It's part of the restorative justice process.
In the questionnaire, the university asks:
- How have you been impacted or harmed by the group? Please provide as many harms as you can identify, these may include harms to yourself or others around you.
- Who do you feel needs to be involved in the process in the long term? This could be people like faculty, stakeholders, the student union, etc.?
- Do you have a sense of the remedies needed for the harms you’ve expressed?
The deadline to submit the completed questionnaire to the university is Jan. 2.
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In the letter, Dalhousie said it would be providing a "resource session" on Jan. 5 which will include information about how the restorative process works
"We anticipate that the process will be a long one, and one which would not require everyone to participate at every level," stated Melissa MacKay, student life manager for Dalhousie.
In the letter, MacKay recognized the impact of the comments on those in the dentistry class, and within the larger community.
"We expect to find that there are systemic issues which we will uncover throughout this process and are building a plan that provides the capacity for us to work through those issues involving other stakeholders as appropriate," she said.
"To clarify, we will not be asking harmed parties to be responsible for punishment, which would be unfair."
In the letter, MacKay said those impacted can choose a level of participation they are comfortable with.
Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen
The dentistry faculty at Dalhousie came under fire after CBC News received screenshots of sexually explicit posts on the so-called Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen Facebook page.
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.
Many people are upset about the restorative justice process that has been chosen, instead of harsher penalties for those alleged to have made the comments.
About 200 people marched across Dalhousie’s campus on Friday, many of whom called for the expulsion of the men involved in posting on the Facebook page.
While some students chose the restorative justice process, not everyone agreed it was the best option.
A woman in the fourth-year Dalhousie dentistry program who has spoken to CBC News on the condition of anonymity, says the restorative justice process and questionnaire put too much onus on the victims to decide on punishment.