Dal to investigate dentistry students' Facebook group after complaints of misogyny

December 17, 2014

Dalhousie University is investigating disturbing Facebook posts that have been attributed to male students in its faculty of dentistry. The posts were made to a group called “Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen,” which was removed from Facebook last week. Posts to the group included sexually explicit content with direct references to women students in the program, and conversations included jokes about using chloroform and nitrous oxide on women. Another post indicated that group members were concerned that a woman student had learned about the group, saying that “we have to get rid of the evidence.” Dal President Richard Florizone issued a statement expressing his “deep disappointment and concern with reports of offensive comments,” and describing the conversation on the Facebook page as “entirely unacceptable and deeply disturbing.” He said that Dal is considering “the full range of options available to us to address these serious allegations” and that the university will take a victim-centred approach that will focus on understanding and repairing the harm that has been caused. Florizone also said that given the anxiety that the issue has caused students, Dal will postpone until January remaining fourth-year dentistry exams. CBC News | Chronicle-Herald | Florizone Statement

Postscript: December 18, 2014

Dalhousie University President Richard Florizone has released a statement outlining the university’s next steps in response to a Facebook group created by some of its dentistry students that included offensive, misogynistic comments about their female peers. A number of the victims have elected to proceed with a restorative justice approach, a collaborative approach that involves all parties. This approach falls under the university’s informal resolution procedure. “The route we’ve taken is the route the women have selected. We will also hold the men accountable for participation in this process. We all know some redress needs to be made. Our objective is to create some space to create what they think the effective redress is,” Florizone said at a press conference. However, Jennifer Nowoselski, VP of the Dalhousie Student Union, said that Dal’s approach is insufficient. “Dalhousie’s reaction to this issue is not action. Our students are not safer today than they were yesterday,” she told CTV. One student who appeared in photos on the Facebook group spoke to the CBC on the condition of anonymity and also called for a stronger punishment. She said she had not been consulted on the matter of restorative justice, and she and her father called for an immediate third-party investigation into the matter. Florizone Statement | Toronto Star | CTV News | CBC News