Nova Scotia

Dalhousie dentistry student speaks out about sexism in faculty

A fourth-year dentistry student at Dalhousie University in Halifax is breaking her silence about sexism in the dentistry school faculty and being the subject of sexual jokes among classmates.

Video of bikini-clad women shown in class to 'wake up' men, says female student

Dalhousie University in Halifax has launched an investigation into disturbing, sexually explicit Facebook posts attributed to male students in the faculty of dentistry. (CBC)

A fourth-year dentistry student at Dalhousie University in Halifax is breaking her silence about sexism in the dentistry school faculty and being the subject of sexual jokes among classmates.

CBC News has agreed to protect her identity.

The 25-year-old woman says her photo appears in screenshots taken of the so-called Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen Facebook page. The screenshots were provided to CBC News before the page was taken down last week.

"It's disheartening, it's upsetting. We're a very small class, very small. We work together every single day, we see each other every single day," she said Wednesday.

"I hope that they will do something, they will take this seriously, finally. I fear they won't. I fear they will continue their path of inaction."

The woman also said she and another female classmate complained to the dean of the faculty of dentistry earlier this year, after a male professor showed a video of bikini-clad women at the start of an 8 a.m. class.

The video — an Air New Zealand safety video featuring Sports Illustrated swimsuit models — was meant to "wake up" the men in the class, the woman said.

"I remember feeling that is so inappropriate and so not necessary to be here and be subjected to this," the woman told CBC News.

"Many of the other women in the class felt the same way and many of us sent emails to the dean's office reporting that we were not OK with this sort of behaviour from faculty."

Shortly after complaining to the dean, the woman said every member of the class received an emailed apology from the professor.

'We have the exact same education'

The woman's revelations are the latest in a series of allegations that have rocked the university's faculty of dentistry since the existence of a Facebook group containing misogynistic and sexually explicit comments came to light.

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.

Some dentistry students at Dalhousie University posted sexually explicit comments on a Facebook group called the Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen. The group has since been deleted. (CBC)

In one 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."

Another member responded, "And by productive I'm assuming you mean it inspires them to become chefs, housekeepers, babysitters, etc."

The 25-year-old student who spoke to CBC News on Wednesday said the comment about women having to be chefs or housekeepers to be productive members of society is what upset her the most.

"We are working side by side with these men every day. We have the exact same education, qualifications and credentials," she said.

"To know that that's what they think of women is the most upsetting of all. Very disrespectful."

The woman said she was once friends with some of the students who belonged to the Facebook group.

When asked about her appearance in the screen grabs, the woman said she was not completely shocked.

"How dare they," she said.


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