News / Halifax

Dalhousie senator calls for campus ‘culture shift’ after dentistry scandal

Steps taken to address sexism in the dentistry program should be rolled out to all parts of the school, the senate heard.

The Dalhousie dentistry building.

Metro file

The Dalhousie dentistry building.

Recommendations raised by a report into the Facebook sexism scandal at Dalhousie University’s dentistry faculty need to be applied to the rest of the campus, a nursing professor told the school’s senate Monday.

Jean Hughes commended the dentistry school for the changes it’s made in response to misconduct that roiled the school early last year and led to the temporary suspension of 13 fourth-year male students who were members of Facebook group that contained sexually violent posts about their female colleagues.

The dentistry school controversy may just have been the tip of the iceberg, Hughes told her fellow senators, in what “we all know” is a university-wide problem.

“We have to take a bigger, much bigger … approach to looking at these issues,” said Hughes. “They’re all through campus, we all have to acknowledge it.”

Hughes said the administration’s current approach to tackling misogyny at Dalhousie has been “siloed” to the dentistry program, when what the university really needs is a cross-campus “culture shift.”

She called for a full-senate discussion about these issues, which was politely “noted” by the body’s chair.

The senate heard a 15-minute presentation about the university’s progress in implementing 39 recommendations outlined in a university-commission independent report on misogyny, sexism and homophobia in Dalhousie’s faculty of dentistry.

Dentistry school dean Tom Boran said an internal senate review committee found that “positive change was occurring” and that students feel like they’re being heard.

Debora Matthews, chair of the dentistry school’s “Next Steps”committee, said the faculty has made gains in clarifying its policy, outreach to “underserved” communities and affirmative action in student recruitment.

Two senators raised concerns about the school’s complaints process, but Dalhousie’s president Richard Florizone assured that university is taking “fresh look” at its policies and review is ongoing.

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