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Room in Dentistry building with hateful graffiti “in plain view”

by Robert Devet


KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) - A Facebook wall caused all the consternation. A real wall with hateful graffiti is hardly more than a footnote in a report.

The Dalhousie Dentistry scandal has been contained in scope to some extent because it centered around an exclusive Facebook page. Students joined by invitation. It wasn't something you would stumble upon while idly surfing the internet.

That's why University and Faculty administration were shocked and surprised when details about the extent and vileness of the misogyny expressed on the Facebook wall first emerged.

Yet the recently released Dalhousie report on restorative justice indicates that the writing was on the wall all along.

On a real wall, right in the Dentistry building, for all to see.

A room, commonly known as the Cavity, was “covered wall to wall, floor to ceiling, with graffiti –including that which would fall into the categories of misogynistic, racist, sexist, and homophobic,” the report reveals. “Some of the graffiti dates back to the early 1990s.”

Much of the offending content was in plain view from the student lounge, the report adds.

No details or examples are provided in terms of what the graffiti entailed. But clearly it wasn't pretty.

“The Cavity was similar to the men’s Facebook group in that it was a private student space but not a secret one where students “one-upped”previous class years with the shock value of the content,” the report suggests.

Students, including likely some of whom have since joined faculty, would sign their names and year of graduation on these walls.

“Some students and faculty commented that signing the wall became a rite of passage within the community and that this tradition had significant historical value,” the report states.

After the investigators “notified” administration, the room was locked and later the walls were painted over.

But not before the independent External Task Force on Misogyny, Sexism and Homophobia in the Faculty of Dentistry had an opportunity to see it.

That group, lead by Constance Backhouse, will release its report as early as next month.

Who in the Faculty administration knew about the existence of the room, and why nothing was done about it for so long, are questions that, for now, remain unanswered.

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter    @DevetRobert



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