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editorial

The Dalhousie University dentistry building in Halifax. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew VaughanAndrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

The sound judgment of Richard Florizone, the president of Dalhousie University, has been confirmed. He was right not to rush to permanently expel all the members of an often loathsomely misogynistic Facebook group of 13 male students in the university's faculty of dentistry.

One of those 13 students, Ryan Millet, enabled the hateful Facebook page to come to the light of day. He showed it to the main female victim, who promptly informed the dentistry faculty.

The group, named very inaccurately "Class of 2015 DDS Gentlemen," formed soon after their first year began in 2011. It seems to have gradually become increasingly obnoxious. For a while, Mr. Millet says, he just thought some posts were "a little over the top."

It finally came to a head when a post was distributed asking which of two women classmates the members of the group would choose to "hate fuck." Six or seven of the men took part.

One of the women was in the same room at the time. She noticed a stir, and wondered what was up. Later that day, Mr. Millet showed her the post. She was quite rightly horrified; she got a screenshot and informed the university authorities.

Questions must certainly be asked about how long Mr. Millet tolerated the odious aspects of the Facebook page, with little or no protest, and apparently no thought of leaving the "club." The post he revealed was not an isolated incident. But a few other members of the group may not have been active in its worst aspects.

Hundreds have demonstrated on campus against the 13 men, and tens of thousands have signed an online petition.

But Dr. Florizone is right to let the university's sexual-harassment policy work, with a victim-led restorative-justice process. The university should be allowed to assess the varying degrees of culpability. An indiscriminate purge is not the answer.