Dalhousie dentistry's Facebook scandal changes to take 2 years to implement
Senate was given the second of a series of updates Monday on the progress made by the dentistry faculty
Recommendations from a report into the Facebook sexism scandal at the dentistry school at Dalhousie University will be implemented within the next two years, the president of the Halifax school said Monday.
Richard Florizone told the university's senate that there are a lot of "moving pieces" and administrators don't have all of the answers yet.
"We're committed to making progress on of these within two years, but it's really an ongoing process," said Florizone.
The independent report released last June made 39 recommendations and called on the university to overhaul its culture and the way it handles complaints of sexism.
The panel's investigation was announced after 13 fourth-year male students at Dalhousie's dentistry school were suspended for being members of a Facebook page that contained sexually violent content about their female classmates.
Students did graduate
The school did allow the students involved to graduate last spring.
The senate was given the second of a series of updates Monday on the progress made by the dentistry faculty in the 16 months since the scandal broke.
Faculty dean Tom Boran said the dentistry school is working to improve communications with students in order to make them feel safer and more comfortable in coming to administrators when they have complaints.
He said the faculty was also updating its curriculum to promote more diversity and inclusion.
"We believe that inclusiveness is fundamental to education and every person at Dalhousie should be respected and feel safe," Boran told the senate.
Debora Matthews, the faculty's assistant dean of research, said the dentistry school's website has been updated to better direct students to support services and to people who can provide help.
A lot of goodwill
As well, she said the deans now have regular meetings with each class of students to discuss concerns with class and clinical requirements as one way to address the issues of competitiveness identified in several reports on the scandal.
"All of this has been launched to create greater access to information and allow multiple avenues for individuals to voice concerns," said Matthews.
Senator and professor Francoise Baylis had been critical prior to the meeting, saying it wasn't clear exactly what the presentation would address.
Baylis was more conciliatory following the meeting, saying there is a lot of goodwill by people committed to making "this place different."
However, Baylis said she is concerned that not enough is being done at this point to draw on the expertise of those at the school to address issues of misogyny and sexism.
"We haven't yet come together as a university to work on this as if it's a common problem," she said.
The report of the panel chaired by University of Ottawa professor Constance Backhouse said Dalhousie's complaint system should be changed to ensure prompt, fair and transparent handling by school officials.
The task force also suggested the establishment of an ombudsman's office similar to those found at other universities.