Recommended Reading

by | January 5, 2015

Schuklenk’s January 5th update:

Dalhousie University announced today that the dental students in question have been suspended from participation in clinics. I don’t know what their timetable would have looked like at this stage in their curriculum, and whether this means that they’d still be able to sit in classes.

Dalhousie’s media release, “Dalhousie Suspends 13 Fourth Year Dental Students from Clinical Activities,” can be found on its website


Udo Schuklenk, Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy at Queen’s University, begins his article, “Restorative Justice Dalhousie University Style,” by saying

Quite remarkable events are occurring currently at Dalhousie University’s Dental School. They take place against the backdrop of an ongoing international outcry about alleged or real rape cultures on university campuses across North America.

While Schuklenk notes that “Misogyny is apparently not a phenomenon limited to student conduct at Dalhousie’s School of Dentistry” since faculty may be implicated as well, he focuses on the students and on Dalhousie President Dr. Richard Florizone’s decision “to embark on a restorative justice course of action” to deal with the the members of Facebook group called “Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen”:

If the reported facts are correct, I cannot see how any of these students could possibly be permitted to complete their studies and graduate. I also cannot see how anyone could provide them in good conscience with a license to practice dentistry. These students are clearly unfit to become health care professionals. It is that simple. Vulnerable patients should be wary of any regulatory body that saw fit to provide such people with a license to practice dentistry.

Schuklenk questions “how effective the Dental School’s professional ethics education has been” and discusses the effect of “restorative justice activities” on female students:

Meanwhile, come Monday [ January 5, 2015] morning, the women subjected to rape fantasies by their male classmates will be lucky enough to face them again in class and dental clinics while the restoration show gets on the road. Is this mind boggling? Not just a little bit. One wonders what’s going on in the minds of senior management at Dalhousie.

and comes to the conclusion that

While there is nothing per se wrong with following the informal process of restorative justice, it clearly is insufficient to address the problem at hand. A formal disciplinary investigation is called for, independent of the restorative justice exercise. The men involved and identified in the Facebook postings should be suspended until that formal investigation has run its course.

The 47,528 people who signed Meghan B’s petition agree; in fact, they want “the Students who were members and/or participated in the Facebook group called ‘Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen'” expelled.

14 thoughts on “Recommended Reading

  1. Corwin

    Apart from needing to learn the difference between “scot free” (escaping without consequences) and “scotch-free” (lacking one of life’s basic necessities), Schuklenk is being pretty damn prissy here. The students are “clearly unfit to become health care professionals” because they joked, or fantasised, about raping some of their classmates? Get real. People joke and fantasise about all kinds of things, including sexual and violent ones, without being at all interested in translating the scenarios under discussion into reality.

    With so much social interaction now taking place online, it’s harder to keep those conversations private than it used to be, which leaves us increasingly facing a societal choice: (1) learn to keep our online discussions more or less PG-rated even in venues (like private Facebook groups) that aren’t supposed to be accessible to the wider public, or (2) learn to shrug at each others’ more lurid flights of fancy provided it’s reasonably clear that they aren’t something more like plans or aspirations. It sounds like Schuklenk would probably prefer the former, but I vote unhesitatingly for the latter. The reality-based community ought to be prepared to accept that the human imagination isn’t always politically correct or socially responsible, and that there’s a critical difference between imagining something and trying to make it happen.

    1. Joe

      “The reality-based community ought to be prepared to accept that the human imagination isn’t always politically correct or socially responsible, and that there’s a critical difference between imagining something and trying to make it happen”

      While I agree, and I find the ‘rapejoke=rapeculture=rape, so let’s burn em!’ Feminist moral panic to be ridiculous… these are men who have chosen a career which implies a huge degree of trust and ethical judgement. It strikes me that suspensions and an investigation has merit.

      This wasn’t just an off colour joke at a party, they seem to have formed an exclusive club centred around being douchebags.

      1. Veronica Abbass Post author

        Ah yes, “This wasn’t just an off colour joke at a party”

        Thanks for your support

      2. Corwin

        It strikes me that suspensions and an investigation has merit.

        That’s a reasonable opinion in itself, but Schuklenk’s pontificating about how the students are unfit to become health care professionals and so forth “if the reported facts are correct” strikes me as way over the top. For me the bottom line is that we’re talking about jokes and fantasies, not plans or actions, no matter how concentrated the “douchebaggery” in this Facebook group might have been – and regarding that point, is it clear that the media (or their sources) haven’t just been cherry-picking the most inflammatory content?

        1. Bubba Kincaid

          I suspect that for certain reasons, we observed differing narratives of the admittedly limited accounts of what exactly occurred.

          Personally I got from what I’ve read so far, that it wasn’t such an exclusive club but rather actively tried to recruit male student members and that possibly some of this seeped into the wider culture at this particular program.

          I also got that a few members of the student body became so upset over it that they felt the need to begin to actively complain.

          Your analysis seems to be a day late and a dollar short since I can only conceive of your point logically concluding in the notion that if it became a problem, then the people effected should have taken action on their own accord, which it seems they did.

          So for you to complain about what seems to be your own only possible contingent conclusion *in this particular case* seems somewhat misplaced.

          Either that or your on a take no prisoners, be all end all priss crusade to save humanity.

          1. Bubba Kincaid

            There is of course also the argument that the online forum private or otherwise is not as benign or primitively innocent as you try to make it out, but rather TODAY has also become the possible mise-en-scene where destructive behaviour that does in fact seep into the real world his hatched, nurtured, cultivated, and conspired. Here I don’t mean rape, but I can conceive that the most active members were influenced to act highly unprofessionally and disruptively at school. In this case, the forum becomes just more material evidence to pile onto the grievances.

            Luckily enough for these students however, the online forum seems to have also begun to take on the role of protective decoy, drawing enough fire on its own to give the students just enough wiggle room to be able to convince those aggrieved to be slightly less bloodthirsty in their reprisals.

          2. Bubba Kincaid

            In any case, I suspect that instead of asking people to learn to be more shrugg-y off-y, a more pragmatic piece of advice would be not to invite the entire world into your private forum expecting them all to be smitten by your flamboyant capacity for braggadocio.

        2. Joe

          “and regarding that point, is it clear that the media (or their sources) haven’t just been cherry-picking the most inflammatory content?”

          I am sure they have. Sensational sells. Unless there was something actually illegal, I’d say expelling is probably redundant. The names will be leaked, and careers will be ruined, regardless. The Internet is killing privacy, and “but think of the children/women” will continue to be the excuse ppl give for not caring.

          1. Bubba Kincaid

            Not sure expelling is such a bad idea.

            After all, if you look at this objectively, these students were inviting professional colleagues into a pseudo-professional location (it seems DDS Gentlemen was a visible though private adjunct to the public and official DDS program facebook page) where they proceeded to baste them with copious amounts of some of the most egregiously vile combinations of composition known to the human species, directed against other professional colleagues of which they were mutual professional colleagues.

            Very unprofessional.

          2. Joe

            People go to university to learn to be and act as professionals.
            People are expected to act like professionals… at work.

            Expecting people to ‘be professional’ all the time every day, is just backdoor moralizing. This is a common tactic of both the extreme right and left. Nothing criminal happened? Make it about the person, so they can be punished anyway.

            I always find it sad when atheist types criticize religion for ‘eye for an eye’ morality, but then turn around and go all ‘zero tolerance’ when it suits them.

            Everyone makes mistakes, especially 20 year olds in school. These days those mistakes get turned into national media feeding frenzies by people who are motivated by politics. Unless they did more than just offend people, I would say, that is punishment enough.

          3. Bubba Kincaid

            They are also rewarded with medical degrees partly based on whether they appear to be a good candidate to act professionally.

  2. Bubba Kincaid

    So you’re taking the, “Put the snitches in stitches,” line then, I take it?

    Will it have to be only “reasonably clear” that the person(s) was indeed a snitch?

    1. Corwin

      So you’re taking the, “Put the snitches in stitches,” line then, I take it?

      No, not in the slightest. It’s more that, if someone snitches on a group that’s prone to discussing lurid fantasies, the rest of us shouldn’t overreact. That’s what I mean by learning to shrug.

      1. Bubba Kincaid

        I get your point, just not quite sure the circumstances surrounding this particular instance are clear enough to make the best model for your case.


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