HALIFAX — Dalhousie University is proceeding with a restorative justice process to resolve complaints about sexually violent comments posted on a Facebook group page about female students at its dentistry school.
The university said Wednesday that many of the women who were the subject of the comments and members of the Facebook group have come forward.
University president Richard Florizone said the women have agreed to go ahead with the restorative justice process, which is an informal resolution procedure that includes the parties involved.
Florizone said the confidential process is intended to explore the impacts of the comments and address accountability, though he adds that its outcome may be made public if those involved want it to.
“The last several days have been very difficult for many, particularly for our female students in the fourth-year dentistry class who were the subject of deeply offensive comments made in a Facebook group by fellow students,” Florizone said in a statement.
“On behalf of the entire university community, I reiterate and emphasize that these types of degrading and misogynistic comments are entirely unacceptable. The comments have caused harm broadly — most importantly, to the women who were impacted by these posts, and women in general, but also to our faculty of dentistry, to the university and to the dental profession.”
He said if the people involved in the process don’t participate in good faith, a more formal complaint process will go ahead involving an investigator that could be referred to a discipline committee of the school’s senate.
In the university’s students’ code of conduct, penalties for violating set behavioural expectations range from a warning to a suspension or expulsion.
“This incident is particularly saddening because it shows how much more work we have to do, as an institution and a society, to create an environment free from harassment, discrimination and sexualized violence,” Florizone said.
According to the CBC, members of the Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen page voted on which woman they’d like to have “hate” sex with and joked about using chloroform on women.
In another post, a woman is shown in a bikini with a caption that says, “Bang until stress is relieved or unconscious (girl).”
The university has also postponed exams at its dentistry school until January, a decision Florizone has said was made due to anxiety among students that was caused by the Facebook page.
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