Dalhousie dentistry students taught separately, senate mulls review
13 students at heart of Facebook scandal will be taught apart from classmates
Students in their fourth year of studies at Dalhousie University's faculty of dentistry headed back to class Monday, but the 13 students who posted sexually explicit messages on a controversial Facebook page were taught separately from the rest of the class and the university's senate met to discuss the issue.
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The dentistry faculty at Dalhousie came under fire after CBC News received screenshots of the posts on the Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen Facebook group.
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. In another post, a woman was shown in a bikini with the caption "Bang until stress is relieved or unconscious."
On campus Monday, the Dalhousie University senate held its regular meeting, with the Facebook issue high on the agenda.
The senate is responsible for granting degrees and discipline policies. There was a full house for the meeting, including about 70 senators and 50 people in the gallery.
Dalhousie president Richard Florizone spoke first, once again calling the Facebook comments unacceptable. He said a just process is being followed that will ensure a safe campus and address the sexist culture.
The president was peppered with questions from the students and professors who make up the senate.
When asked how Dalhousie knows there were only 13 men in the Facebook group, Florizone said it was based on screen captures. He said more investigation needs to be done to determine if more men were involved.
Two student senators said Dalhousie was “too soft” on the members of the Facebook group and they supported suspending the 13 men from school.
Another student senator asked if the female dental students discussed in the Facebook group have seen the content. A lawyer for Dalhousie confirmed that they have.
Philosophy professor Letitia Meynell introduced a motion to replace the dental school professional standards committee reviewing the conduct of the members of the Facebook group.
Meynell said the Dalhousie dental school's investigation of its own students lacked credibility, and she asked the senate to appoint a committee that would include dentists from outside the school.
The motion was deferred to a later meeting.
Gail Murphy has been a patient of Dalhousie's dental school for three years. She said all the students she has dealt with have been "very professional."
She said the scandal hasn't made her think twice about going back to the school's dental clinic.
"They’ve all been professionals, every last one of them. It was a tempest in the teapot. It should have been dealt with last summer when it first arose and taken care of and then all this wouldn’t have happened," she said.
'They need to grow up'
Murphy said she believes the university has handled the situation "poorly."
"It’s a shame and the president should go," she said, adding that the student her husband normally sees isn't in clinic.
"It’s upsetting to my husband because he was just a lovely sweet fellow. It sounds like they’re all being made to suffer for a couple of idiotic actions. They need to grow up," said Murphy.
On the weekend, Dalhousie administrators rejected a formal complaint against the group of 13 filed by four professors, based on the school's student code of conduct.
The four professors say they are "distressed" that the only disciplinary process will now be handled inside the school of dentistry.
The faculty of dentistry's academic standards class committee is still investigating the students and an independent task force has been set up to look into the issue of misogyny on the campus.
The task force will be led by Prof. Constance Backhouse from the University of Ottawa.
Dalhousie will also continue with its restorative justice process — though some people are upset about the process, instead calling for harsher penalties for those who made the postings.