Students spurred complaint at Dalhousie: prof
HALIFAX — A Dalhousie University faculty member who has filed a complaint with three other professors over male students who allegedly posted sexual and hateful messages online about females says she was acting on behalf of other students.
Francoise Baylis of the university’s medical school said Sunday the professors filed a formal complaint under the students’ code of conduct to Anne Forrestall, the acting vice-provost of student affairs, on Dec. 21 and handdelivered a print copy the following day.
The complaint asks that the dentistry students involved in the Facebook group where misogynistic comments were allegedly posted be suspended on an interim basis before the return of classes Monday, she said.
Suspending those involved would allow other students to “return to the classroom in a context where they would hopefully be able to have confidence that it is a safe environment and an environment that would be conducive to their continued learning,” Baylis said.
She said the professors have heard from students who are not satisfied with the current informal restorative justice process.
“We are deeply committed to creating a situation whereby no individual student would have to put themselves at risk if they wanted to bring forward a complaint,” she said in a phone interview on Sunday.
“As people at the university with a faculty appointment, it seemed like a reasonable thing for us to do, to make sure no student would themselves have to feel obliged to make that complaint … and no student thereafter would bear any negative consequences for having attempted to bring forward a formal complaint.”
The other professors who signed the complaint are Jocelyn Downie of law and medicine, Brian Noble from the faculty of arts and sciences and Jacqueline Warwick of the faculty of arts and sciences, gender and women’s studies.
Baylis said the effects of the hateful messages extend beyond those directly involved in the school of dentistry.
“Think about the dental hygiene students. Think about the dental assistants. Think about the patients that come to the clinic,” Baylis said, adding that the clinic is now closed until Jan. 12.
“The process that’s on offer right now, as we see it, doesn’t actually address or respond to all of their legitimate needs or concerns in this process.”
In an email, Dalhousie spokesman Brian Leadbetter said a preliminary assessment of the formal complaint will be completed in early January and an update on that process will be provided this week.
University president Richard Florizone has said 13 men in the fourth year of the dentistry program were members of a Facebook group where comments were posted. The Facebook page has since been taken down.
According to the CBC, members of the Class of DDS Gentlemen page on Facebook voted on which woman they’d like to have “hate” sex with and joked about using chloroform on women.