Francoise Baylis

Françoise Baylis, Canada research chair in bioethics and philosophy at Dalhousie University, has co-authored a statement urging an independent investigation into sexualized violence on campus. (Courtesy Government of Canada)

Five Dalhousie University faculty members, including a Canada research chair in bioethics, are calling for the school to launch an independent inquiry into sexualized violence on campus in the wake of the dentistry school misogyny scandal.

In a statement posted online, the professors say sexualized violence is a problem at universities across the country. They urge Dalhousie to respond by looking at both the specific harm caused by the Facebook posts, and by addressing underlying causes.

They also say the university must protect the safety of dentistry students and the future patients of those who posted the comments if they are found to have violated university or professional codes of conduct. 

This comes as controversy continues to swirl around the Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen Facebook page, where fourth-year male dentistry students posted violent sexual comments about female classmates. It included a poll about having “hate” sex with female students and drugging women.

“The response to the systemic causes of sexualized violence must include the appointment of an Independent Committee of Inquiry composed entirely of external members to investigate, to consult with all relevant stakeholders, to issue a public report, and to make recommendations to all appropriate institutions and organizations,” says the statement by the five faculty members.

“Only in this way might we be able to ensure the safety and success of students, faculty and staff, and begin to regain public trust in the Faculty of Dentistry and Dalhousie University.”

The statement is authored by Françoise Baylis, Canada research chair in bioethics and philosophy; Elaine Craig, with the faculty of law; Jocelyn Downie in the faculties of law and medicine; Letitia Meynell, with the department of philosophy and program of gender and women’s studies; and Brian Noble in the department of sociology and social anthropology.

The five faculty members also apologize for not demanding more action on their own campus following scandals at other universities, including Saint Mary's.

Dalhousie President Richard Florizone announced earlier this week a plan for a restorative justice approach where victims and perpetrators can meet.

He also pledged to form a “task force” in the coming weeks. It’s not clear who will be a part of that task force.

The five faculty members say the university must take steps to ensure the safety of students in the dentistry school and patients at the dentistry clinic.

The statement says the university must ensure the safety of the future patients of Dalhousie dentistry students found to have violated professional and university sexual harassment and code of conduct policies.