The Report of the Task Force on Misogyny, Sexism and Homophobia in Dalhousie University Faculty of Dentistry was released yesterday. During a press conference panel leader Constance Backhouse detailed findings related to the misogynistic comments made by some members of Dalhousie University’s dentistry program.
Backhouse says the task force “concluded that overall, Dalhousie’s policies relating to sexual harassment issues are as good, if not better, than those of other Canadian universities. We do not see a need for the university to redraft its policies.” So the policies that were needed to address the complaints brought forward by female dentistry students were there, they were just ignored. That begs the question – what difference will 39 new recommendations make if what’s there now is good enough but not enforced?
What happened at Dalhousie was as much an crisis of leadership as it was a crisis of a culture that openly “condoned sexist, misogynistic, homophobic, and racist behaviour.” Even the now infamous “Cavity” lounge was covered with “misogynistic, racist, sexist, and homophobic” graffiti that dated back to the early 1990s. That’s a long time to spend doing nothing.
South House, Dalhousie’s student-funded, volunteer-driven feminist driven resource centre, issued a statement that sums up perfectly what happens now. They, “sincerely hope that this report acts as a catalyst and a call to action. The Dalhousie community needs to hold the University accountable to the report’s recommendations. This report is important, and this report validates our frustration and anger. We won’t let up.”
It is an important document and I hope it brings about a long overdue change not just within Dalhousie but in Nova Scotia. If I could add a recommendation it would be that Dalhousie should reach out to Student A and offer her an apology for failing to protect and support her as well as failing to properly respond to her complaint.[su_divider top=”no” divider_color=”#006699″ link_color=”#006699″] [su_quote cite=”Constance Backhouse – Dalhousie University Faculty of Dentistry Report”]When events like the Facebook posts reach a crisis point, there is a tendency for everyone to search for an individualized culprit. Some people refer to this as a bad apple theory. And this was evident at almost every level.
People told us that the Facebook posters — 13 students and the female student who filed the complaint, the first complaint and the male student who disclosed the Facebook poll to her — were all bad apples. The whole fourth year class was described to us as a bad apple class.
The faculty members, whose alleged acts of discrimination attracted attention, were described as bad apple professors and instructors. The mismanagement at the staff level in the dental school was apparently caused by bad apple managers.
Some described the whole faculty of dentistry as a bad apple faculty. The outside faculty members who tried to intervene were bad apples for creating more controversy. Some of the senior administrators who failed to solve the problem to everyone’s satisfaction were considered bad apples.
And of course, as the media, you’re well aware that almost everybody thought the media was the really bad apple in this.[/su_quote] [su_divider top=”no” divider_color=”#006699″ link_color=”#006699″] Related: