Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Broader Issues at Dalhousie

"They're using their entitlement and prestige and their positions as dentists, they're exploiting that."
"It's not enough to just say we're going to give them sensitivity training. They need to look at some of these broader issues of concern."
Jackie Stevens, Avalon Sexual Assault Centre, Halifax

"People are deeply disappointed and concerned. People find the language and the conversation entirely unacceptable."
"My mind is sort of at root causes, which is why are people saying the things they're saying? What is it about the environment that seems to be fostering this?"
"The route we’ve taken is the route the women have selected. We will also hold the men accountable for participation in this process."
"We all know some redress needs to be made. Our objective is to create some space to create what they think the effective redress is."
"I’m struck by the maturity and grace of the women I’ve talked with. I’m struck by the horror and regret I hear from some of the men involved that have corresponded with me. It doesn’t excuse it. It doesn’t remedy the situation. But it’s a fact."
"This incident is particularly saddening because it shows how much more work we have to do, as an institution and a society, to create an environment free from harassment, discrimination and sexualized violence."
Richard Florizone, president, Dalhousie University, Halifax

"It does give them a lot of control [restorative justice] … in terms of how they handle the process, but with that control comes a lot of pressure and in some ways the potential for revictimization".
"The message has to be clearly sent that this is taken seriously that this kind of conduct is not acceptable and will not be tolerated and whatever process they’re using, that message has to be out there."
Wayne MacKay, law professor, expert on cyberbullying, Dalhousie University
dal dentistry
Dalhousie University in Halifax has postponed some exams and launched an investigation into disturbing, sexually explicit Facebook posts attributed to male students in the faculty of dentistry. (CBC)

Dentistry is an elite medical profession, a very remunerative one, appealing to people who are capable of amassing grades good enough to admit them to the dentistry school. A graduating class of Dalhousie dentistry students has fired up Canada-wide indignation through their inexcusable juvenile
crudity in discussing their male preoccupation with female students whom they find appealing. Not appealing in the sense that they'd like to date them in a respectful manner, but rather that they relish scenes of degrading, violent sex with these women.

And nor did the 13 men set to graduate out of the class of 47, keep their obnoxiously psychopathic sexism to themselves, in the secret of a tell-no-one dark chamber of embarrassment and guffaws; they chose to post their stupid comments on Facebook. How's that for the scholarly minds of mature fourth-year dentistry students letting off frat steam? The Facebook Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen(!) page posted a vote to select which female student on campus they'd prefer for "hate" sex, joking about the very professional use of chloroform, and other odious comments.

Little wonder university president Florizone is upset over the episode of male maturity sliding into the realm of bathroom humour that is bleak, black and sexist beyond rationale. Little wonder he spoke to some of the men involved who were, Mr. Florizone said, effecting an attitude of "horror" and regret at the situation. Presumably at all the backlash to their unspeakable stupidity, not necessarily their actions which precipitated the public outrage. So, President Florizone decided to postpone final exams, possibly until things simmer down.

The question is, why are the thirteen involved not being expelled completely from the program, and the final tests carried out for those of the class who were not involved? The public would be grateful if such an action were to be taken, to remove the potential of these men in their twenties who haven't the grace and intelligence not to indulge in such disgustingly antisocial antics, becoming accredited professionals and plying a profession upon which they have brought shame. Better they might be led to pursue a career as bar bouncers.

Before they even get to that point, consider the harm done to the women students, knowing that among them male counterparts viewed them in such a despicably cynical sexist manner. They have embarked on a profession respected in society, and find it difficult to respect others...? And should the affair be dismissed with a pantomime of bringing offender and offended together to calmly talk things through to everyone's satisfaction, who in the process will be satisfied? The women, knowing that under that kind of pressure to redeem themselves the men involved will grovel, but not repent?

The kind of mentality that finds pleasure and humour in degrading other people will find no moral lesson in those discussions admitting their social failures as human beings. The penalty is simply too ambivalent and slack, too readily shrugged off. Certainly not sufficiently compelling to persuade them of the gratuitous harm they have committed to the well-being of women on campus.

Root causes, Mr. Florizone? Generalized societal disinclination to hold to account the gross indecency of people, thankfully in a minority, who see nothing amiss in patronizingly declaring their superiority over others through gender determination, persuading themselves that sexual violence is a matter of huge amusement. President Florizone should heed his own university's students' code of conduct, the penalties for which range from a warning to a suspension or expulsion, reflecting violation of behavioral expectations.

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