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Dalhousie Dental Clinics Closing Until January After Discovery Of Sexist Facebook Group

12/23/2014 01:00 EST | Updated 12/23/2014 08:59 EST
Thomas Kitchin & Victoria Hurst via Getty Images

Dalhousie University is closing its public dental clinics until January to deal with the discovery of sexually violent Facebook posts by fourth-year male dentistry students.

"The closing of the dental clinics is one of the many steps being taken so patients, students, faculty and staff are able to return to classes and clinics in a safe and supportive environment," the university wrote in a press release.

The clinics will be closed until Jan. 12.

The school has also postponed fourth-year dentistry exams until January due to student anxiety about the posts.

The moves come after Dalhousie announced it was going ahead with a restorative justice process to deal with complaints about the Facebook posts. Both the 13 male students involved and several of the women who were the subject of the posts decided to participate.

"The route we've taken is the route the women have selected," university president Richard Florizone told a news conference on Dec. 17. "We will also hold the men accountable for participation in this process."

In comments to the Globe and Mail, however, he said that expulsion of the students hasn't been ruled out.

In one of the posts, which appeared on the Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen Facebook group, men joked about using chloroform on women and voted on which woman they'd like to have "hate sex" with, according to CBC, which received screenshots. The page has since been taken down.

Four Dalhousie faculty members filed formal complaints under the university's Code of Student Conduct after the Facebook group came to light, CBC reported Monday.

A petition signed by 150 faculty is also calling for an independent inquiry, according to Global. Brian Leadbetter, the school's director of communications, said the school would launch a task force in January to look at sexism on campus.

The school has also sent students a questionnaire asking how they've been harmed by the Facebook comments and letting them know a information session will be held Jan. 5 to describe how restorative justice works.

About 200 people marched in a Friday protest to demand that Dalhousie take stronger action against the students.

“If [the students] really did take an active role in this misogyny they do need to be expelled,” Jacqueline van Nieuwenhuizen, a Dalhousie graduate student, told the Globe and Mail. “They are just months away from being practising physicians in society and if these were practising dentists they would have lost their licences.”

Another petition on Change.org calling for the students' expulsion has over 42,000 signatures.

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