Skip to main content

Four faculty members of Halifax’s Dalhousie University say a complaint they filed two weeks ago about male students allegedly posting sexually hateful messages online about females has not been addressed by administration.Roger Hallett/The Globe and Mail

A Dalhousie University faculty member who has filed a complaint with three other professors over male students who allegedly posted sexually hateful messages online about females says she was acting on behalf of other students who feel more needs to be done.

Françoise Baylis of the university's medical school said Sunday that the professors filed a formal complaint under the students' code of conduct to Anne Forrestall, the school's acting vice-provost of student affairs, on Dec. 21 and hand-delivered a print copy the following day.

She says the complaint asks that the dentistry students involved in the Facebook group where misogynistic comments were allegedly posted be suspended on an interim basis prior to the return of classes on Monday.

Baylis said suspending the students involved would allow other students to "return to the classroom in a context where they would hopefully be able to have confidence that it is a safe environment and an environment that would be conducive to their continued learning."

She said the professors have heard from students who are not satisfied with the current informal restorative justice process.

"We are deeply committed to creating a situation whereby no individual student would have to put themselves at risk if they wanted to bring forward a complaint," she said in a phone interview on Sunday.

"As people at the university with a faculty appointment, it seemed like a reasonable thing for us to do, to make sure no student would themselves have to feel obliged to make that complaint... and no student thereafter would bear any negative consequences for having attempted to bring forward a formal complaint."

The three other professors who signed the complaint are Jocelyn Downie of Law and Medicine, Brian Noble from the faculty of Arts and Sciences and Jacqueline Warwick of the faculty of Arts and Sciences, Gender and Women's studies.

Baylis said the effects of the hateful messages extend beyond those directly involved in the school of dentistry.

"Think about the dental hygiene students, think about the dental assistants, think about the patients that come to the clinic," said Baylis, adding that the clinic is now closed until Jan. 12.

"The process that's on offer right now, as we see it, doesn't actually address or respond to all of their legitimate needs or concerns in this process."

Baylis says the professors are concerned because the complaint has not been addressed by administration. She says the group initially wanted to keep their names confidential, but decided to go public because of the delays in processing the complaint.

In an email, Dalhousie spokesman Brian Leadbetter says a preliminary assessment of the formal complaint will be completed in early January and an update on that process will be provided this week.

University president Richard Florizone has said 13 men in the fourth-year of the dentistry program were members of a Facebook group where comments were posted. The Facebook page has since been taken down.

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)."