External investigation into Dalhousie scandal not about punishment
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External investigation into Dalhousie scandal not about punishment

Classes get off to a late start today at Dalhousie’s Faculty of Dentistry, but 13 male students who made up a controversial Facebook page won’t be in the classroom.

This as the school has started an external investigation into the men linked to a social media site containing sexually violent content about women.

Professor Constance Backhouse will be heading up that task, she said her goal isn’t about pointing out who has done wrong, or what punishments are warranted.

“This is more of a systemic overview,” said Backhouse.  “This issue of what to do with the various individuals involved in the incident that blew up is in other people’s hands.”

Backhouse is from the University of Ottawa’s Common Law department, her research is in gender and sexual issues, and she has experience investigating issues of institutional discrimination.

She said she believes the kinds of attitudes shown in this incident aren’t unique to Dalhousie’s Faculty of Dentistry, but she hopes to find out why it happened there.

“I don’t think that the Faculty of Dentistry at Dalhousie is particularly any worse than many other places in Canadian academic environments,” said Backhouse.

Backhouse hopes the findings can begin to change attitudes not just at Dalhousie, but at every university in Canada.

The matter is also being looked into by an academic standards committee within the dental school.

Dalhousie president Richard Florizone said Friday that the men will not be allowed to sit in on lectures with the rest of their classmates while investigations into the matter are underway.

Florizone said those 13 students will attend classes “remotely” or in other classrooms on campus.

Fourteen women and 12 of the 13 members of the Facebook group will also be taking part in a restorative justice process, which uses an informal and confidential resolution procedure that includes all of the parties involved.

The results of the Backhouse-led analysis will be made public at the end of June.

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