A prominent Canadian dental school is under fire for rampant sexual harassment that was going on, unchecked, in a Facebook group attributed to the school's male dental students. According to the CBC, female dental students at Dalhousie University have been subjected to sexism and harassment on a daily basis from their male peers, who set up a Gentlemen's Club-style Facebook group called "Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen." The group has been removed from Facebook, but screenshots obtained by the CBC reveal some horrific treatment of the school's female students.
The misogynist Facebook group — which had about a dozen members, all of whom dental students — regularly featured demoralizing posts discussing the dental school's female students. The posts are graphic in nature, with one showing a picture of their classmate in a bikini with the caption: "Bang until stress is relieved or unconscious (girl)."
Another post captured by the CBC shows a poll featuring the names of two female dental students. The survey question? "Who would you hate f--k?" The CBC also obtained posts that joked about using chloroform on their fellow female peers, after the male students realized their page had been compromised and they might be penalized for the horrific posts. Some of the posts included questions like, "Does this rag smell like chloroform to you?"
On Monday, Dalhousie University announced it was launching a full investigation into the Facebook page. University President Richard Florizone issued a statement on Wednesday outlining the university's approach to penalizing those associated with the Facebook account, as well as other sexual harassment allegations that are now surfacing. Florizone said a "a restorative justice process under the policy’s informal resolution procedure" is currently underway, and that the university plans to "address cultures of sexism, misogyny and sexualized violence" in the near future. "We must ensure an inclusive community that offers a healthy and safe learning and working environment for all," Florizone said.
The university president, who called the comments "deeply offensive," "degrading" and "misogynistic," reiterated on Wednesday that the recent display of sexism and misogyny is a failure of the greater university of community:
The comments have caused harm broadly — most importantly, to the women who were impacted by these posts, and women in general, but also to our Faculty of Dentistry, to the university and to the dental profession. 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. Each of us has a responsibility to ensure Dalhousie is a safe space for all members of our community.
Although the offensive Facebook group didn't receive media attention until Monday, Dec. 15, university officials said they were first aware of the sexual harassment allegations when a female dental student met with a representative at the university’s Human Rights, Equity and Harassment Prevention office on Dec. 8. Florizone said both female dental students who have endured harassment and male members of the Facebook group have been coming forward.
While most of the focus has been on the Gentlemen's Club online forum, one female dental student told the CBC on Wednesday that the sexual harassment continued in the classroom. The unnamed dental student said one of her male dental professors once showed a video of bikini-clad women at the start of a morning class as a "wake up."
"I remember feeling that is so inappropriate and so not necessary to be here and be subjected to this," the unidentified female student told the CBC, adding many of her peers later emailed the school's dean about the inappropriate video. The female students said they eventually received an apology from the professor.
If there's any bright spot to this debacle, it's that all the men involved with the Facebook group are cooperating with the university investigation, Florizone said Wednesday evening.
Image: Dalhousie University/Facebook