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Dal dentistry should hold students to standards of profession

When it comes to the 13 boys in Dalhousie’s dentistry program, every party concerned should wonder how they made it to their fourth year thinking it was okay to discuss on Facebook who you would like to hate-fuck (ugh, that term).

I don’t mean to say that their eighth century Facebook group was spewing bigoted filth for their entire four years. The curiosity is how the hell they were never taught, in the early years of their education, that lightheartedly discussing chloroforming women is wrong.

Even more putrid is how the Canadian university at large is not innocent of similar incidents. I’ve heard the songs drunkenly sung by students on the last bus downtown at night. I’ve heard the offhand jokes that male students make about women belonging in the kitchen. I’ve been around students who have derided a professor by referring to their gender.

I am unable to say I am removed from the culture that perpetuates these actions and calls the Dalhousie kids’ actions a “mistake.” While I’ve never surfed Facebook hoping for a men’s rights group to join, I am a male who grew up in male-centric society. At one time, I thought there were concrete gender roles, that men were best at work and women at home. Through education, I learned to be conscious of my privilege, of a society that prioritizes my sex. I discovered that my beliefs were harmful.

I found my deeply instilled views confronted and ultimately transformed by my peers and professors during the first years of my bachelor. It was difficult to reconceive my notions on patriarchy and gender dynamics. It was also difficult to get out of bed for an 8:30 a.m. class. Something being difficult is not even a shadow of an excuse to not do it. Vital to a satisfying and inclusive life is perpetually developing your embedded notions of people, society.

Plenty of irrelevant voices have written and spoken on how these 13 juveniles at Dalhousie made a mistake and don’t deserve to have their careers ruined. It was just words. What an outright cowardly way to avoid a difficult situation. For god’s sake, it was a group of guys who were so obsessed with chloroforming women, hate-fucking, and gender binaries that they had to start a Facebook group about it.

Am I brainwashed by bike-riding pinkos? I have a liberal arts degree in English. Prime ground for some old-fashioned commie propaganda. I gave up being ashamed about my left-leanings around the same time that I started realizing that women, too, have a right to equal wages and employment.

If it takes being an indoctrinated leftist to realize that the Dalhousie Dudes did something not only idiotic, but outright wrong, then I’m in.

The question still stands: what’s the punishment? At the very least, expel them from the program for a set period of time. I don’t want this out of some sympathetic form of vengeance. It’s far simpler than that. My conviction is that a professional program should hold its students to the same standards as that profession in practice.

Let’s see those standards, taken from the Nova Scotia Dental Association’s code of ethics: “Maintain a safe and healthy practice for patients and staff,” “Refuse to participate in or support practices that violate basic human rights.”

The last tenant really hits home. The Dal Dudes’ Facebook group was secret, closed off from the public. These 13 schoolboys got together and talked about degrading and violent things concerning women, both specifically and generally.

If dentists can lose their license in Nova Scotia over degrading women, the Dal Dudes should lose their chance at getting one. It was just some jokes on Facebook? Bullshit.

When Rehtaeh Parsons finally told her parents about being gang-raped by 4 boys at a party, they went to the police. The family said that the police did not question the boys upon being informed, did not search their phones, that they dealt with the situation as a matter of rumour.

Throughout the reporting of the Rehtaeh Parsons tragedy, there was an implication that because the only evidence of her gang-rape was photos on the internet it was somehow less credible. As we know, the RCMP eventually reopened the case once they got “credible” evidence. Eventually, after much pain, there were convictions. But not until a large group of individuals spoke out for what was right.

The issue at hand in both situations is male privilege. This is what it creates. It’s real and we need to drop it like we dropped this semester’s stats course. So, do we make an example of the Dal 13? To expel them isn’t to make an example. It’s to hold them to the standards of not only their profession, but the standards of being a decent human being.

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1 Comment

  1. nerdimist Reply

    Totally agree with the sentiment on this one. That said, if something like this happened at the professional level – that is, with already-licensed dentists – sanctions aside from a full and permanent loss of license do exist and are likely what would be applied. 

    It is possible for the NSDA to suspend any licensing to these men and/or place conditions on their ability to practice (e.g. not allow them to administer sedatives, not allow them to be alone with a patient under sedation, etc.) for a certain period of time – normally ten years – after which point they would be re-assessed with the factors contributing to their sanctions considered in this re-assessment. I, personally, would advocate mandatory sensitivity training and education on gender-based violence prevention on top of this. 

    You can, of course, debate until the cows come home about whether such sanctions are sufficient or whether medical professionals should, in fact, lose their ability to practice in circumstances like these. Point being, there are ways to discipline these men that provide both punitive and restorative justice: discipline that is very clearly and transparently more than a slap on the wrist, but that also allows these men to learn and end up better off for it. 

    As a fellow progressive, I believe discipline should be about rehabilitation. In the same way that prisoners overwhelmingly end up re-offending after incarceration, expelling these men while providing no opportunity for learning and redemption stands to exacerbate their misogynistic tendencies. Let’s help them become better people instead.

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