Nova Scotia

Dalhousie dentistry Facebook scandal men to attend separate classes

Men involved in the Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen's controversial Facebook postings will not attend classes with the rest of their classmates, the university announced today.

Board of governors held an emergency meeting Friday morning

Dalhousie University president Richard Florizone has said there will be 'significant consequences' for the dentistry students who posted misogynistic comments on Facebook. He said the expulsion of the men involved has not been ruled out. (CBC)

Men involved in the Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen's controversial Facebook postings will not attend classes with the rest of their classmates, Dalhousie University officials announced today.

The 13 men involved in the group may attend classes remotely, off campus, or meet in their own group on campus, but they will not be in the same class as the rest of their classmates. 

University president Richard Florizone also announced Friday that there will be a third-party assessment of the environment within the faculty of dentistry.

He said the task force carrying out the assessment will be led by Constance Backhouse, a professor and research chair from the University of Ottawa.

"[She] is internationally recognized for her work on sex discrimination and the legal history of gender and race in Canada," Florizone said in a statement. 

"We are honoured to have her lend her wisdom and expertise to this task force."

12 of 13 Facebook members participating 

Florizone held a press conference Friday afternoon to expand on the statement. 

“It’s obviously been a tough month for our university, for our community; obviously most directly for the women who were most directly targeted in these posts," he said. 

He said he's heard from many survivors of sexualized violence in the past month. "This behaviour is completely unacceptable and won’t be accepted at Dalhousie University," he said. 

He said the restorative justice process continues with "strong support" from a majority of the fourth-year class, saying “it can be a powerful tool for change."

Twelve of the 13 members of the Facebook group are participating, but one man decided not to. Florizone didn't know how many of the women named by the group are participating. 

"We’ve heard from so many voices and I know that there are many in the community who work passionately to address these issues of misogyny and sexism and homophobia," Florizone said. 

"I know they put their hearts and souls into their work and I look to them and their leadership as we continue to respond to this incident."

On Friday, the Halifax university’s board of governors unanimously endorsed Florizone's handling of the Facebook scandal that rocked the Halifax institution.

The 28-member board held a special emergency meeting Friday morning.

Dalhousie and its faculty of dentistry had come under public scrutiny for the handling of the Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen postings on popular social media site Facebook. The page was created by some male students in the fourth-year dentistry class, and contained misogynistic and sexually explicit posts, including a poll about having "hate" sex with female students and comments about drugging women.

On Monday, Dalhousie announced the 13 members of the Facebook group had been suspended from all clinical activities, pending consideration by the faculty of dentistry's academic standards class committee. Classes that had been delayed are set to resume on Monday.  

'Our work will continue'

Board chair Larry Stordy said no individuals have lost their jobs.

The meeting of the board was not scheduled or advertised, but a handful of protesters greeted board members on their arrival at 8:30 AT Friday.

They carried signs showing their disappointment over the university's handling of the scandal. Slogans included  "Your move, BoG" and "We want survivor-centred justice."

Florizone has asked that everyone "come together as a community."

"I ask you to help Dalhousie to be a place that everyone — and I mean everyone — feels welcome and supported," he said in the statement.

"Our work will continue in the weeks and months to come. I believe we can work together to exemplify equality, inclusivity and respect. Moments of crisis make us stronger. They are an opportunity to test our principles and examine our values. I believe in Dalhousie, and I believe we can do better."

Earlier this week, a group of fourth-year female students from the faculty of dentistry wrote an open letter to the president of the school, saying they feel pressured to accept the restorative justice process.

Under restorative justice, the two sides come together and discuss what an appropriate punishment should be.

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