I’ve been reading a lot about the Dalhousie University scandal lately, it’s been pretty hard to ignore. While I’ve found that people that I’ve spoken to about it, and public feedback online, people seem to be generally outraged by the actions of these students, I’m finding that the whole issue is being downplayed by the media. Sure, they’re reporting on the goings-on, but in general the details of what these men did is being glossed over. So far I have read that these men allegedly posted “misogynistic comments”, that these 13 men “allegedly belonged to a controversial Facebook group”, and that they’ve made comments that were “offensive” or “unacceptable”. Of course the best one I posted on the Facebook page yesterday in which Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente came to these men’s defence, trivializing what they did as a “stupid, juvenile mistake”.
Blut, let’s get things straight here, the things that were ‘allegedly’ posted in this Facebook group were not normal comments made by a group of young men. These comments and posts are violent, threatening and disturbing. Polls were posted with names of their fellow female students urging the members of the group to choose “which one [they] would hatef–k”. A photo of a woman in a bikini was posted and captioned “Bang until stress is relieved or [she is] unconscious. So called jokes were made about drugging their fellow students with chloroform and nitrous oxide. I don’t know if this point has been made clear in other arenas, but I really want to drive this home: These men were fourth year dentistry students, meaning that during clinical studies they had access to these drugs. To me, their easy access and professional aspirations make these heinous actions so much worse. Who is to say that these were empty threats, comments without intent? It doesn’t feel that way to me.
Today, the media released an open letter written anonymously from some female dentistry students condemning the university’s use of “restorative justice”. The 13 men in question have been suspended from their clinical studies, which temporarily prevents them from graduating but, so far, that’s it. What does it say to women seeking an education if men are so freely able to say and do such unspeakable things with no consequences? And to people that challenge this, to people who think it was a juvenile mistake: Would you want to be sedated by a dentist who made threats to rape women while unconscious? Think about it. I know I wouldn’t.