Dalhousie University suspends 13 dentistry students in Facebook scandal

Dalhousie University suspended 13 dentistry students from clinical duties over misogynistic comments allegedly posted on a social media site, saying it wants to ensure the safety of patients and classmates.

HALIFAX — Dalhousie University suspended 13 dentistry students from clinical duties over misogynistic comments allegedly posted on a social media site, saying it wants to ensure the safety of patients and classmates.

University president Richard Florizone and the dean of dentistry announced that the fourth-year students will not be able to practise at a community clinic while a committee reviews the matter.

Florizone added that this latest response to the deepening crisis could affect the students’ ability to graduate if the suspension hasn’t been lifted and they haven’t fulfilled academic requirements.

“The behaviour has called into question their professionalism … so they are suspended from clinical activity until this academic committee removes that suspension,” Florizone said in the Halifax university’s main academic building.

The review by the academic standards class committee will also determine if the men will be allowed to return to classes next week and, if so, whether they will be kept separate from the rest of the 44 students in fourth year.

Thomas Boran, dean of the dentistry school, said the allegations have “rocked the administration” and that he had no knowledge of the comments until a media report exposed the Facebook page where they were posted.

“We had no idea that it existed,” he said. “The faculty of dentistry has been deeply affected by this incident. Comments expressed on the Facebook postings were deeply offensive.”

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.

In another post, a woman is shown in a bikini with a caption that says, “Bang until stress is relieved or unconscious (girl).”

The Facebook page has since been taken down.

The posts and the university’s initial response prompted rallies, calls for the men’s expulsion and a demand by some faculty members for an independent inquiry into how the school handled the incident.

Hundreds of protesters filled a square outside the president’s office building Monday, where they demanded the students be expelled and that more be done to address sexism on campus.

“I think it’s one step that’s overdue,” said Jude Ashburn of the South House Sexual and Gender Resource Centre at Dalhousie. “They still need to be expelled and there needs to be a widespread plan of attack from Dalhousie to address institutionalized misogyny.”

Kortney Foley, a student who was at the protest, agreed.

“These students need to be expelled because people should feel safe when they go to get any medical work done,” she said. “Having people who have said these things be in a position of power isn’t right.”

The suspensions come after four professors at the university filed a complaint over the allegations and asked that the male students be given an interim suspension to ensure people’s safety on campus.

Francoise Baylis of the of the university’s medical school said she was pleased with the clinical suspensions, but wondered why the school did not act sooner.

“The action taken doesn’t go far enough and it could have been taken earlier in December, so I don’t understand the delay,” she said.

“We were asking for an interim suspension before the start of classes so that students coming back would know that they were going into a safe and supportive learning environment.”

Florizone said the decision to suspend the clinical privileges was made on Dec. 22. He said the university waited two weeks to make it public after it heard reports that the male students involved were at risk of harming themselves and the school wanted to ensure that appropriate supports were available to them.

“We had credible reports from our frontline staff of potential self-harm,” he said. “We took those seriously and so that concern for student safety overrode our concern about communicating this publicly.”

The university launched a restorative justice process last month after an unspecified number of women filed a complaint under the university’s sexual harassment policy and chose to proceed with the process. It is an informal and confidential resolution procedure that includes the parties involved.

The school said it is continuing with that, as well as looking at ways to “address the broader harm caused by this incident.”

The university said the academic standards class committee can develop remediation plans and recommend academic dismissal. The students cannot receive a dentistry degree from Dalhousie University without meeting academic requirements, which includes professional standards.

The school said it will decide this week whether fourth-year dentistry classes will resume next Monday.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Marcus Golczyk, with Taco Monster, hands food to a customer during Food Truck Drive and Dash in the Westerner Park parking lot in Red Deer Friday afternoon. The drive-thru event will run every Thursday from 4-7 p.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through June. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff
Food Truck Fridays, Food Truck Drive and Dash return in Red Deer

Red Deerians are able to take in a drive-thru food truck experience… Continue reading

Don and Gloria Moore, of Red Deer, are set to celebrate their 70th anniversary later this month. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer couple to celebrate 70th anniversary

Red Deer couple Don and Gloria Moore are set to celebrate their… Continue reading

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
UPDATE: Central Alberta cafe owner arrested after anti-restriction protest

The owner of a central Alberta cafe, which was the site of… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer now has 911 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 2,917 active cases

FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault chairs a premiers virtual news conference as premiers John Horgan, B.C., Jason Kenney, Alberta, and Scott Moe, Saskatchewan, are seen onscreen, Thursday, March 4, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Several provinces bring in new restrictions as high COVID-19 case numbers persist

Several provinces are gearing up to tighten public health measures once again… Continue reading

Members of the RCAF take part in a Royal Canadian Air Force change of command ceremony in Ottawa on Friday, May 4, 2018. The Royal Canadian Air Force is hoping Canada will open its doors to military pilots from other countries as it seeks to address a longstanding shortage of experienced aviators. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
RCAF turns to foreign pilots to help with shortage as commercial aviators stay away

OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Air Force is hoping Canada will open… Continue reading

An arrivals and departures information screen is seen at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Halifax on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. The chief executive of Atlantic Canada's largest airport is hoping for COVID-19 testing for arriving passengers "sooner rather than later," as an added measure to combat the province's third wave of the virus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Halifax airport CEO hopes for more on-site COVID testing ‘sooner rather than later’

HALIFAX — The chief executive of Atlantic Canada’s largest airport is hoping… Continue reading

Shoppers wear mask as they shop at a nursery & garden shop on Mother's Day weekend during COVID-19 pandemic in Wilmette, Ill., Saturday, May 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Tearful reunions mark second Mother’s Day under pandemic

Last Mother’s Day, they celebrated with bacon and eggs over FaceTime. This… Continue reading

Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet, standing, watches the game during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. The Wild won 5-2. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)
Tocchet won’t return as coach of Coyotes after 4 seasons

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes and coach Rick Tocchet have mutually… Continue reading

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella shouts at an official after a fight between Columbus Blue Jackets' s Gavin Bayreuther and Florida Panthers' Sam Bennett during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, April 19, 2021, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Tortorella out after 6 years as Columbus Blue Jackets coach

COLUMBUS, Ohio — John Tortorella is out as coach of the Columbus… Continue reading

A caribou grazes on Baffin Island in a 2008 file photo. A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada's vanishing caribou herds is a step closer after a scientific review panel's approval of a plan to permanently pen some animals and breed them to repopulate other herds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kike Calvo via AP Images
Parks Canada captive caribou breeding proposal gets OK from scientific review panel

JASPER, Alta. — A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada’s vanishing… Continue reading

The smouldering remains of houses in Slave Lake, Alta., are seen in a May 16, 2011, file photo. The wildfire that is devastating large swaths of the northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray comes just five years after another blaze destroyed 400 buildings and left 2,000 people homeless in Slave Lake, Alberta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ian Jackson
Ten years later: Five things to know about the Slave Lake wildfire

A wildfire burned about one-third of Slave Lake in northern Alberta in… Continue reading

Most Read