News / Halifax

Dentistry dollars: Dalhousie spends almost $650,000 in wake of dentistry scandal

Dalhousie's student union president says the high cost of external public relations is "concerning".

A student walks by Dalhousie's dentistry campus in this file photo.

Metro file

A student walks by Dalhousie's dentistry campus in this file photo.

Dalhousie University spent almost $650,000 in the wake of the Dalhousie dentistry scandal, leaving the school’s student union to wonder where it found the cash.

“I think it’s a concern to the students when the university is able to find that kind of money to spend on things like PR firms while we are being asked to pay continuously increasing tuition fees,” said Dalhousie Student Union president Dan Nicholson on Wednesday.

“We have to look at how they’re making their budgetary choices.”

Of the $646,217 spent during the scandal, $344,669 went to what the school calls “external communications council” – including “strategic communications support and counsel, media monitoring and training, and writing of some communications materials.”

The school spent $118,448 on outside legal fees, made up of $58,181.34 on “advice” for administration, and $57,771.80 supporting the faculty of dentistry’s Academic Standard Class Committee meetings.

Rounding out the total, the Task Force on Misogyny, Sexism and Homophobia in the Faculty of Dentistry cost a total of $183,100 including travel costs for the members of the task force, printing and handling the media the day of its unveiling.

“I think it kind of affirmed what students have been saying for years,” Nicholson said of the task force, though he added its “very helpful recommendations” will allow the school and the student union itself “to better address issues of sexualized violence.”

When the report was released in June, school president Richard Florizone said he accepted the 39 recommendations, and that he hoped to implement them in the next two years.

The task force – led by University of Ottawa professor Constance Backhouse – was launched in the wake of sexist and misogynist posts on the so-called Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen Facebook page.

Backhouse turned down the school’s offer of a $5,000 honorarium for her work.

This is a corrected version. A previous version added the overall total wrong to say Dalhousie spent more than $750,000. Metro apologizes for the error.

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