Dalhousie profs go public with complaint linked to misogynistic Facebook posts
Published Sunday, January 4, 2015 12:37PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, January 4, 2015 5:36PM EST
Four Dalhousie professors have gone public with a formal complaint they submitted to the university last month, which called for male dentistry students linked to a sexually explicit Facebook discussion to be suspended before classes resume on Monday.
One of the professors, Francoise Baylis, said they decided to go public because they haven’t yet been assured that the complaint has been properly submitted and whether it will be addressed.
“Students have to go back to school tomorrow morning, and in our view, the university has an obligation to provide all students with a safe and supportive learning environment,” Baylis, who teaches at Dalhousie’s medical school, told CTV Atlantic.
“Our view is that it’s important to have at least addressed the complaint prior to the students coming back.”
The formal complaint from Dec. 21 calls for the university to hand out suspensions to all fourth-year students who were allegedly involved in offensive posts discussing female students in the Faculty of Dentistry. The complaint is co-signed by Baylis and fellow Dalhousie professors Jocelyn Downie, Brian Noble and Jacqueline Warwick.
"The purpose of the Complaint was to trigger an interim suspension prior to the start of classes on Monday, January 5, 2015," the professors said in a statement emailed to CTVNews.ca on Sunday.
The complaint cites a number of posts allegedly made by fourth-year students in the Facebook group called "Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen."
One poster reportedly joked about using chloroform to render a woman unconscious. Another asked members which female students they would like to have "hate sex" with. A third post showed a photo of a woman in a bikini with the caption: "bang until stress is relieved or unconscious (girl)."
The formal complaint matches these allegations up to violations under the school's Code of Student Conduct. It says offending students should be suspended because they "pose a threat of disruption or interference with the operations of the University and the activities of its members."
Baylis said the formal process was engaged because some of the affected female students either did not consent to, or were not approached about the informal “restorative justice” approach the university decided to take.
On Dec. 17, university president Richard Florizone said administrators were looking into informal complaints by women who were subjects of the offensive posts. He also left the door open to a formal complaint process if the affected women chose to pursue it.
"I ask for our communities to give our students and university administrators the time to complete their work through the restorative justice process and forge meaningful, responsible outcomes," Florizone said in a statement.
"Our overall response must also address cultures of sexism, misogyny and sexualized violence," he added.
Baylis said the offensive Facebook posts require both an individual and a “systemic” response.
“All of us believe that we’re at a very unique cultural moment in time where we’re actually able to name the problem publicly, to call this misogyny, to talk about gendered violence,” she said.