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Op-ed: Dalhousie Class of DDS Gentlemen 2015 Graduates this Friday!

Not one of the offenders has stepped forward to reveal his name or apologize to the wider community

by Judy Haiven.

Op-ed: Dalhousie Class of DDS Gentlemen 2015 Graduates this Friday!

The boys of the Dalhousie Dental School should get an A in their coursework.

In fact they got an education, with ‘value added’ as we say in the business world. After paying the sky-high tuition fees to attend the Dal dental school, double for the international students, the members of the Class of DDS Gentlemen 2015 also received mini-courses in law, sociology, women’s studies and human rights. 

And the men dental students had the pleasure of attending many co-ed classes with the same female classmates whom the Gents named and rated according to the women’s body size and appearance on the Gentlemen’s Facebook page. The Gents attended classes with the same female classmates who, just a few months before, the Gents wanted to “hate-fuck”, wanted to drug with chloroform and then fuck, and wanted to “bang” until the Gents’ “stress was relieved, or until the girl was unconscious.” 

Surprisingly, some of the female dental classmates were good sports about it.  They agreed to help rehabilitate the Gents.   Many of the women participated in the restorative justice process and became the Gentlemen’s tutors and their guides through the process and the new curriculum—and the women did it for free.

And to top it all off – the Gents are all graduating this week! Congrats!

They graduate despite at least two giant protests by women and men in the community, many thoughtful op-eds, scores of angry letters to Dalhousie President Florizone, and a petition with 3 000 plus signatures which called for the Gents to be expelled.  One Gent faced a Dalhousie University disciplinary committee for acting as a whistleblower.  All that uproar, and extra classes --still the Gents will graduate on time this Friday afternoon!

Of course the rest of us in the wider community do not know the names of the Gents.  And President Florizone and the people at the top want to keep it that way.  No sense dragging the Gents’ names through the mud.  Florizone had help:  he had The Coast and the CBC who tacitly agreed to keep mum about the Gents’ names.  Strange:  the media, especially the CBC, has previously gone to court for the right to reveal men’s names in other important cases, but not in this one.  How convenient for the Class of DDS Gentlemen.  The Gentlemen were protected and their careers remain unblemished by their vicious Facebook postings.  The local media should be congratulated for playing along.

The Gents are men, not boys. These days, virtually all students need at least one university degree to enter dental school.  Some even have earned a Master’s degree before being accepted into the dental school.  Let’s calculate how old these young Gents are: age 18 or 19 when they finished high school, plus four years for undergrad, that’s closing in on age 23. Those who finished 2 years of postgraduate, or a Masters degree are likely at least 25 years old.  Dental school is 4 years – that means the Gentlemen in the Facebook pages who are graduating this week must be at least 27 to 30 years of age.  Frank Magazine ran photos and bios of most of the Dal dental class of 2015.  In the class as a whole, more than ¼ were ‘mature’ students, many of them were married-- some had children.  How many of them were in the Gentlemen’s Club?

The other day, I read that one of the Gents insists he and the others are not monsters.  No, but their privilege, their whiteness, their maleness and their total contempt for half the world’s people (women), including half of their classmates was stunning.

I feel uneasy about the use of restorative justice in the case of misogyny. It is ironic that restorative justice, which began as an alternative to punishment --such as imprisonment-- especially for underprivileged people who broke the law, is now being used by the privileged to protect them from penalty or punishment.  University of Alberta legal scholar Annalise Acorn expresses doubts about restorative justice in her book, Compulsory Compassion, a Critique of Restorative Justice.  She wonders whether restorative justice can bring together values such as love and compassion with the need for justice and accountability.  Aren’t we a bit too fast with the compassion, she asks?

Dalhousie President Florizone insists the restorative justice process was a success. “The men have taken ownership of their actions,” he says.  How can that be? Accountability, or ownership, must be transparent. Not one of Gents has stepped forward to admit to anything, including his name.  It was not just the women in the dental school who were owed apologies and explanations.  The university community, women across this country, patients and staff in dental practices, plus the 3 000 who petitioned to expel the men from Dalhousie deserved to hear the Gents’ apologies and their commitment to fight misogyny, racism and sexism. 

Absent this, we are left with Gents who have not had to perform one day of community service for free (except for the prescribed work in the university’s dental clinic), have not had to contribute one penny to a feminist cause, a women’s shelter or a social justice organization.  The Gents never had to face the public’s wrath on a personal level – as their identities continue to be protected by the top administration and the board at Dalhousie.  In fact Dal President Florizone admitted that the convocation list would likely not reveal hints about which Facebook group members are in fact graduating. 

The very shocking and all too common outrage of misogyny ends with barely a whimper.

Judy Haiven teaches in the Management Dept at the Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary's University. She is chair of the CCPA-NS.

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