Nova Scotia

Dalhousie Facebook posts 'completely unacceptable,' says professor

The misogynistic and sexually explicit Facebook posts by a group of male Dalhousie University dentistry students are 'completely unacceptable,' says one of four professors who recently went public about filing a formal complaint with the school.

Françoise Baylis one of four professors who recently went public about filing formal complaint

Dalhousie Facebook scandal: Professors go public with complaint

8 years ago
Duration 1:32
Professors say the university needs to do more, and the bigger question of public safety needs to be addressed in a more formal way

The misogynistic and sexually explicit Facebook posts by a group of male Dalhousie University dentistry students are "completely unacceptable," says one of four professors who recently went public about filing a formal complaint with the school.

Professor Françoise Baylis, along with Jocelyn Downie, Brian Noble and Jacqueline Warwick, allege some of the Facebook comments amount to threats of sexual assault and acts of sexual harassment.

Françoise Baylis, Canada research chair in bioethics and philosophy at Dalhousie University, is one of four professors who issued a formal complaint about the Facebook group postings. (Courtesy Government of Canada)

"It's 2015, it's completely unacceptable that you would think you could get away with saying that, let alone thinking it," said Baylis.

"And to put in on paper, to think that it's something that's funny, to think that you're sending that message out for other people to think of as humourous or entertaining, [it's] completely unacceptable."

The professors' complaint urges the university to suspend students who actively participated in any of the offensive posts on the 2015 DDS Gentlemen's Club Facebook group. The professors say that action is warranted under the university's Code of Student Conduct to ensure the safety of students and staff in the program, as well as patients at its dentistry clinics.

Baylis, Canada Research Chair in bioethics and philosophy, told CBC News on Sunday that the university should have made the decision to suspend the male students before classes resumed this week — and said there is still time for that to change.

"There are still a few hours before tomorrow morning. I think it's still within the realm of possibility that the university could have an interim suspension."

Baylis said the suspension would allow the matter to go through the university's disciplinary committee to determine appropriate action.

'Unexplained delays'

Baylis said the professors initiated the complaint so that no student would have to come forward publicly, and as an addition to the restorative justice process chosen by the university.

She said the complaint was not submitted anonymously, but the group asked for confidentiality.

"To be perfectly frank, originally we had not intended for this to be public. We had intended to follow the process as we understood it at the university in submitting the formal complaint and allowing it to go through the steps that are necessary," Baylis said.

The professors came forward because there have been what the group called in a statement "unexplained delays" in processing the complaint, and the professors were worried the condition of confidentiality was responsible for the delay.

"And so we officially consented for our names to be disclosed if that were the problem."

The professors haven't received an answer from the university as to whether that was the case, Baylis said.

Postings about 'hate sex'

In an email to CBC News, Dalhousie's director of communications Brian Leadbetter responded to the professors' decision to make their complaint public.

"In December, we advised that Dalhousie will have our preliminary assessment of the formal complaint filed on December 22 completed in early January. We fully expect to share that update this week."

The dentistry faculty at Dalhousie came under fire after CBC News received screenshots of sexually explicit posts on the Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen Facebook page.

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 people are upset about the restorative justice process that has been chosen, instead calling for harsher penalties for those alleged to have made the comments.

Read the complaint

Read the professors' statement


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