The Current

Dalhousie's decision to use restorative justice can be traumatizing for women, says counsellor

Dalhousie University plans to use Restorative Justice to resolve complaints of misogynist and sexually violent Facebook posts made by dentistry students. Pam Rubin, a women's trauma counsellor says in this case, this process is not a good way to address the abuse and feels jurisdictions that have tried it are retreating from the system for sexual abuse crimes....
Dalhousie University plans to use Restorative Justice to resolve complaints of misogynist and sexually violent Facebook posts made by dentistry students. Pam Rubin, a women's trauma counsellor says in this case, this process is not a good way to address the abuse and feels jurisdictions that have tried it are retreating from the system for sexual abuse crimes. 
These types of degrading and misogynistic comments are entirely unacceptable in our community.Richard Florizone, Dalhousie University President

The community in question is Dalhousie University, in Halifax. And it's a community that was rocked this past week when sexually violent Facebook posts came to light. A group of fourth-year, male dentistry students had posted the vicious comments about women in their classes.

This week, Dalhousie University announced that the school would be tackling the problem by using what's known as "restorative justice." Restorative justice is an approach, or process, that usually avoids punishment. Instead, it aims to get both sides to come to an understanding of the hurt that's been caused.

The Dalhousie president, Richard Florizone, explained why he decided to take this route.

... in choosing these options amidst the many voices ... listening to the voices of those students most directly harmed by this, those women and meeting with them personally today. Because of course this route when I say I'm taking a victim centred approach, that implies that I'm providing assurances to this community that we are following the wishes of these women. And so I wanted to meet with them personally to understand because I felt only I could judge by seeing them close up that this is the route that they wanted to take. And that's the decision I stand by.Richard Florizone, Dalhousie University President

Restorative Justice is not a route that's everyone is standing by, however.

Pam Rubin is a lawyer and women's trauma counsellor. She joined us from Halifax.


This segment was produced by The Current's Ines Colabrese and Halifax Network Producer, Mary Lynk.

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