Dal dentistry students issue open letter addressing restorative justice process

March 3, 2015

Dalhousie University dentistry students participating in the restorative justice process launched in the wake of December's Facebook scandal have issued an open letter sharing their perspectives. The letter includes a section from the male members of the Facebook group, one from the affected women who chose to participate in the restorative justice process, and one from the entire group of participants. The male students involved state that "from the beginning of this process we felt incredibly remorseful and took ownership of what we did (individually and collectively)" but add that they have not yet apologized publicly because doing so would have been "self-serving if not based on the hard work necessary to gain the depth of understanding required for meaningful and sincere apology." They add that they "are doing the hard work to figure out how to truly be sorry. We owe meaningful apologies to those we have impacted most directly first." The female students emphasize that "we made this choice [to pursue restorative justice] informed of all the options available to us and came to our decision independently and without coercion." They add that "many people (some with good intentions) have spoke about us and in the process often attempted to speak for us in ways that we have experienced as harmful, silencing, and re-traumatizing." Together, the students note that "the constant public attention has been harmful and even sometimes threatening to us, our families, and friends," and ask that the group’s privacy be respected as they continue through the restorative justice process. Open Letter | CBC

Postscript: March 4, 2015

Dalhousie University has lifted the suspensions of the male dentistry students who participated in a misogynistic Facebook group, save for the one who says he blew the whistle. Ryan Millet's lawyer Bruce MacIntosh says that his client had offered to participate in the restorative justice process implemented at Dal, but that "he refused to acknowledge that he was guilty of blatant unprofessionalism. Ryan was not invited to continue participation in the restorative justice program, once he refused to acknowledge his guilt." MacIntosh added that Millet believes "there is an underlying attitude among some within the Dalhousie community that he is partially to blame for the ... reputational harm" suffered by the university. Millet claims to have notified a fellow student about the group after she was named in a particular post, allowing her to look at the group in order to gather evidence for a complaint, before he left the group. Dal has reportedly allowed the other 12 members of the Facebook group to make a conditional return to the university's dental clinic, while Millet's case remains under review. MacIntosh said that Millet is asking for his suspension to be expunged "as if it never occurred." Globe and Mail | Toronto Star | CBC