by | December 22, 2014

#dalhousielackscommunication is the hashtag Jesse Ward, Editor-in-chief of DalGazette.com, suggests in place of the #dalhousiehateswomen hashtag because

you will find dispute over whether people using the hashtag (#dalhousiehateswomen) truly believe Dalhousie administration hates women or if these words are meant to be symbolic.

However, even the hashtag #dalhousielackscommunication is problematic. Athough Dalhousie University President Richard Florizone, whose profile page claims “brings academic and organizational leadership to Dalhousie,” is communicating, he is not communicating in ways that serve Dalhousie students, faculty, staff, alumni or donors. In a December 21 article in the DalGazette, “Questions in Dentistry Scandal Go Unanswered Amid Extensive Media Coverage,” Ward explains why Florizone’s communication fails to satisfy:

Many important questions have not yet been answered:

  • Did the university administration make any effort to consult all or any of the women targeted in posts by the group?

  • Did the university administration make any effort to consult all or any of the women in the fourth-year dentistry class who may not have been directly targeted in posts by the group?

  • We’re told the approach was “victim-centred” – if this is the case, why were women only given the two options within Dal’s Sexual Harassment Policy? Were they ever given the option of having Dal administration have the men tried against the school’s Code of Conduct? Why has the answer to that question not been communicated to the public?

  • Why is Dalhousie giving asymmetric information about the number of men and women in the case, then citing legal reasons?

  • If a dentistry professor was forced to email an apology to his students for showing a video of women in bikinis to “wake up” the men in the class this year, and Florizone is saying he was only made aware of this incident this week, why is he only hearing of it now? Is that not the kind of information that makes it his way?

  • How did Dalhousie determine that just two women were “most affected” by the posts in the group, and how did these two women happen to also be the only women who came forward opting for restorative justice?

  • Dalhousie has announced they want a “victim-centred”

    approach, but some of the grossly misogynistic posts do not target specific women. What should the punishment be for these, or are posts in a private Facebook group void from being tried under Dal’s Code of Conduct unless they mention specific people?

  • What is president Florizone’s response to people concerned and upset by his editorial in the Chronicle Herald where he says students who do not feel safe “will not have to go back to classes”?

  • What is being done to protect the future of the men in the 2015 dentistry class who weren’t ever associated with the group, if there are any? Does Dalhousie not consider these innocent men victims even though their professional reputations are at stake?

  • Why has the Dalhousie Dentistry Student Society been silent through this?

There is a petition circulating asking Dalhousie University President Dr. Richard Florizone to expel the students who were members and/or participated in the Facebook group called ‘Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen.’ The petition has almost 40,000 signatures, but a petition should not be necessary because Dalhousie has a Code of Student Conduct and a Sexual Harassment Policy. However, Florizone is being criticized for “focusing on a ‘restorative justice’ response to the hateful and misogynistic Facebook posts of a group of fourth-year male dentistry students.”

The Dalhousie University “Restorative Justice Pilot Project” is described on the Dalhousie University webpage as

a partnership between Dalhousie, Halifax Regional Police (HRP), and the Nova Scotia Department of Justice. It aims to help Dalhousie students who have received a summary offence ticket (SOT) or certain criminal charges, by using positive steps to address their offenses. It brings together our students, the greater community, and other partners to encourage and support the acceptance of responsibility and accountability.

As a Chronicle Herald editorial points out, this is not a case that warrants testing a restorative justice project:

The university administration should be acting decisively to protect the public, all female students, its reputation and the whole university community.

It should not put all the onus on individual complainants. It should act independently and immediately to investigate the Facebook record and to determine who posted what. Proportional to the individual offences, it should suspend, expel or otherwise seriously discipline individuals whose involvement in the postings is found to violate professional ethics and/or student conduct standards.

Dalhousie President Dr. Richard Florizone has a responsibility to “act decisively” in the interest of all the students, the faculty, the staff, and the donors and taxpayers who contribute to his publicly funded university.

One thought on “#dalhousielackscommunication

  1. Joe

    Just goes to show that university kangaroo courts and trial by Internet is vastly inferior to the presumption of innocence and a jury of your peers. If there is a crime here… It should be in the courts. Then it is public record. Full stop.


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