Dalhousie University has temporarily suspended 13 fourth-year dental students from clinical activities after they posted violent sexual comments about female classmates in a Facebook group.
The suspensions came after several women at the university in Halifax, Nova Scotia, complained about the posts, according to a joint statement from university President Richard Florizone, PhD, and Thomas Boran, DDS, dean of the university's Faculty of Dentistry.
The suspensions are part of a "restorative justice process," pending consideration by the Faculty of Dentistry's Academic Standards Committee. " The suspensions were "necessary to ensure a safe and supportive environment for patients and classmates who participate in the clinics," according to the statement.
While the suspensions are in place, the male students cannot graduate, Florizone and Dr. Boran noted.
Many were upset over the university's handling of the Facebook page by the Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen's Club. The dentistry students' comments about female classmates included a poll about having "hate" sex with female students and drugging women.
"Comments expressed on the Facebook postings were deeply offensive, and completely unacceptable to all of us at Dalhousie University," Florizone and Dr. Boran wrote. "We recognize that what has happened is not isolated to Dalhousie University. It is a complex societal issue about which our community cares deeply and in which we must fully engage."
Most students at the university returned to classes January 5, but fourth-year dental classes don't resume until January 12. The suspension decision was made on December 22 but was not announced until January 5 to ensure students had access to counseling services. Decisions regarding fourth-year classes and the rescheduling of fourth-year exams will be made this week, according to the statement.