Dalhousie University has un-suspended 12 male dentistry students involved in the misogynist Facebook group. The decision comes via the university’s Academic Standards Class Committee, said Dal President Richard Florizone in a statement:
Over the last two months, the work of the ASCC has included reviewing the Facebook material; receiving submissions from the students; meeting individually with each of the thirteen members of the Facebook group; receiving legal submissions; receiving reports from RJ [restorative justice]; and extensive deliberations within the committee.
As part of their procedures, the ASCC is required to review the suspension from clinic. The ASCC has carefully considered whether a conditional return to clinic for the 12 men taking part in RJ would create any risk to students, staff and the public.
Based on this review, the ASCC has determined that each of the men may return to clinic under a number of conditions, which include: close supervision; ongoing participation in RJ; attendance at refresher training; participation in a series of classes on communication and professionalism; and ongoing demonstration of high standards of professionalism. A student may be removed from clinic if any of these conditions are violated. ASCC consideration of the 13th student is ongoing.
Florizone’s statement came just hours after 29 students in the class published an open, but unsigned letter on the university’s website. The letter is divided into three sections, representing different groups within the class. The men involved in the Facebook group said they are remorseful:
Our conduct as members of the Facebook group was hurtful, painful, and wrong. It has impacted our classmates, friends, families, faculty, staff, patients, the university community, the profession and the public. Our actions have led to significant consequences for us, but also for others. Many of the consequences we have experienced both personally and professionally are a natural result of our actions and we own those consequences. Our actions have also had profound consequences for others that we own with deep regret. We know that our conduct has damaged trust in many important relationships.
Six women named in the Facebook postings who have taken part in the restorative justice process said they have been unfairly portrayed in the community:
We respect that everyone who has been directly impacted by this situation deserves equal opportunity to proceed in a way in which they are comfortable. We wish to be accorded the same respect for this justice path we have chosen. We made this choice informed of all of the options available to us and came to our decision independently and without coercion. We have exercised restraint in discussing our perspective in the media but, to be clear, we do not feel that the coverage on social and mainstream media has been representative of our unique or common experiences. Many people (some with good intentions) have spoken about us and in the process often attempted to speak for us in ways that we have experienced as harmful, silencing and re-traumatizing. Our perspective and decision to proceed through this process has often not been honoured or trusted but dismissed or criticized based on the decisions or perspectives of others. We are strong, well-educated professional women with words of our own to explain what we are going through and how we want to proceed.
And 11 others in the class, men and women not directly involved in the Facebook mess, asked for privacy:
We believe that the education and perspective that we are gaining through our participation in the restorative justice process will allow us to be better healthcare providers, colleagues, and representatives of Dalhousie University. We ask, as a group, that our privacy and our right to pursue this restorative process off the public stage be respected. The constant public attention has been harmful and even sometimes threatening to us, our families and friends.
Ryan Millet, the man who was a member of the Facebook group and who gave his login information to a female student, which ultimately caused the group to become public knowledge, is the 13th member, and has refused to go through the restorative justice process. I believe there are four other women in the class who have not signed onto the restorative justice process. It’s likely that all five did not agree to the public letter, but that’s impossible to determine because it is unsigned.
2. Man doesn’t like his job, thinking of quitting
Matthew Leahey, who owns Leahey’s Landscaping and Contracting Ltd, one of the firms contracted to clear sidewalks in Halifax, tells Metro that he doesn’t like his job. “I would give them back every penny that I’ve collected this year and say here you go, HRM, you can take it over,” he said, and it’s an impossible task anyway:
Leahey said mechanized equipment is too small to be able to break up the ice, and hiring people with hand tools just isn’t feasible.
“If you do the math on 54 kilometres, I would literally have to hire everybody from each one of the houses that I do, which would probably cost me about $1 million,” he said.
To review (behind the pay wall), Leahey is being paid $833,172.42 over three years to clear sidewalks in the north end, so a million dollars isn’t that crazy of an expenditure. His problem isn’t the million dollars; the problem is he under-bid the contract. And that’s completely understandable. Had he bid a higher price — say, a dollar amount that reflected what it would cost to do the job properly — he would’ve lost to a lower bidder.
At its heart, our icy sidewalks are the fault of the city. Putting the service out to bid meant that competing contractors would try to low-ball the cost of the service, sacrificing adequate service in pursuit of lower costs, which is exactly what City Hall wanted.
Not only that, but the way the contracts were structured necessarily led to this result: Leahey had to offer a bid price for three years of service, no matter what the weather was. City Hall wanted a one-price contract in order to bring budget certainty to the process. But this is nuts. The city’s own in-house snow and ice clearing budgets aren’t certain; they’re continually under-budgeted, and fluctuate by millions of dollars from year to year, depending on the weather. The Chronicle Herald today reviews the amount the city budgeted for snow and ice removal over the last five years, versus actual expenditures:
•2014-15: Budgeted — $20 million. Actual — unknown.
•2013-14: Budgeted — $19.99 million. Actual — $24,205,700
•2012-13: Budgeted — $15.12 million. Actual — $18,557,304
•2011-12: Budgeted — $12.42 million. Actual — $18,364,604
•2010-11: Budgeted — $12.25 million. Actual — $18,963,381
•2009-10: Budgeted — $12.44 million. Actual — $18,187,798
The contractors are no doubt decent guys, but come on, they’re basically the adult version of the hard-working teenage kid roaming the neighbourhood with his lawnmower. To expect these guys to have the budget and weather forecasting skills that professional city managers paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year can’t provide for the city itself is just asking for trouble.
And it’s not just city managers — it’s council itself. As far back as 2008, former city Finance Director Cathie O’Toole was trying to get council to adopt more realistic budgets for winter works operations, but council would have none of it. It was a political decision to pass “balanced” budgets based on fictional warm winter forecasts, so that taxes wouldn’t have to be raised. When the unbudgeted money had to actually be spent on clearing snow and ice, council demanded that staff find other “savings,” which led to such cost-cutting measures as contracting out sidewalk plowing and instituting a “vacancy management” policy, leaving positions like, well, like snowplow driving unfilled in order to save a few bucks.
If we must contract out the service (and really, must we?), we should contract sidewalk clearing as a standing offer, like how we contract for heating oil. We would never ask Esso to guess how much oil the city is going to use over the next three years and give one set price for it ahead of time, no matter how much we might use; instead, we ask the company to offer a price per barrel, and we purchase what we need at that price. Similarly, the sidewalk clearing contractors should make bids on a per-weather event basis, and we should pay them for the service we need, however much that might cost in total.
Our icy sidewalks represent a system failure at City Hall. And that failure was caused by placing budget-cutting above providing adequate service. Once the decision was made to prioritize budget-cutting, it was only a matter of time and an especially difficult winter for the system to fail, and here we are.
3. Wild Kingdom
A cat got stranded on a power pole in Scotchtown:
A few people were around trying to figure what to do. But when someone posted a picture of the stranded cat on Facebook, the next thing she knew her uncle, Bernie Peckham, showed up to help.
“He flagged a Seaside Communications truck down.”
[A neighbour, Kelly] MacEachern said she was impressed. The linesman didn’t hesitate to go up the pole in the utility bucket to rescue the cat.
“He was very nice,” she said, adding he was gentle with the cat.
She said when the bucket was part way down the cat jumped out and took off, obviously frightened.
Pam Rubin, a counsellor who says she’s been contacted by people affected by the Dal Dentistry scandal, puts the open letter from Dal Dentistry students in the context of rape culture:
…The [restorative justice] process allows Dalhousie to proclaim that something wonderful is being done, while insulating that process from all community criticism or even any scrutiny.
But historically, “privacy” isn’t something that has protected women, as a group. Just the opposite. By characterizing sexualized harms as purely private matters, rape culture is supported. For decades police wouldn’t enter a home where a woman was being beaten: it’s a private matter, and a man’s home was his castle. Sexual abuses in schools, on sports teams, and in youth clubs were not matters to be spoken about, nobody’s business. Better not to endanger the good mission of the worthy organizations. As we know this created an atmosphere that enabled the worst abuses. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, much to the delight of pimps, johns, and other abusers.
Anyone who dares to say that public organizations’ handling of sexist harassment is a public issue is accused of interfering with the secret “process.” Anyone who says that the community (in the form of current and future patients, sexual assault survivors and their families, and everyone else affected by these major institutions and professions) has a stake and a role and a voice is cast as undermining the agency of the targeted students. And that’s exactly what rape culture needs to flourish. To set up opposition and divisions between those targeted and the community. To divide and conquer. To play up class differences. To try to shame community women into accepting a de-politicized view of rape culture.
No public meetings.
St. Patrick’s High School—the city today has issued a tender for the demolition of the former Saint Patrick’s High School. Bids will be opened April 7.
Standing Committee on Community Services (1pm, Room 233A, Johnston Building)—Jamie Irving, president of Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Shore, will talk.
Geographic Information System (Tuesday, noon,Room C300, C Building, Sexton Campus)—The GIS Centre explains:
The GIS Centre’s Lunchless Learn Series is back for the winter term! These are hands-on tutorials, held around lunchtime, open to all on campus (without the food).
A GIS, or Geographic Information System, is “a computer system for capturing, storing, checking, integrating, manipulating, analyzing and displaying data relating to positions on earth’s surface.” In other words, it’s an easy and fun way to look at the world differently.
This series gives people a taste of what GIS is and how it can be used. We are offering the same session at different times and locations, so choose the one that fits your schedule best. These sessions are meant to be self-contained; after the intro session–take only the topics that are of interest to you.
Biomedical Visions (Tuesday, 7pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery)—next in the ongoing series, Sarah Maloney and Lisa Nilsson will talk.
Crosswalk Safety Information Café (Wednesday, 4:30pm, Sexton Campus, Building ‘B’ Alumni Lounge, 1360 Barrington Street)—organized by DalTRAC and the HRM Crosswalk Safety Advisory Committee, “the workshop will offer an opportunity to explore crosswalk safety plans and initiatives that currently exist in Halifax, while receiving feedback from YOU to prioritize next steps.” You were supposed to RSVP by last week, but show up anyway, I’m sure they’ll be glad to talk with you.
Raw Deal (Wednesday, 8pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery)—the 1948 film directed by Anthony Mann and shot by legendary cinematographer John Alton, Raw Deal tells the story of an ex-con who is set up to become the patsy of a mob boss.
CNIB Dining in the dark (Thursday, 5pm, Dalhousie McInnes Room, 6136 University Ave)—I’m putting this out a little early so those interested can reserve seats. Says the CNIB:
The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) invites you to attend their third annual Dining in the Dark – a signature, volunteer-driven event in Atlantic Canada to raise funds for CNIB programs and services.
During this unique dining experience, you will have the opportunity to enjoy a meal while relying solely on your sense of touch, taste and smell. Throughout the evening, two inspiring individuals will share their own personal story about how CNIB has helped them see beyond vision loss.
Appetizer: Roasted Butternut Squash with caramelized apples and herbed cream.
Entree: Stuffed chicken breast with cranberry and goat cheese with side of herb roasted potatoes and butter poached asparagus.
Dessert: Chocolate mouse gateau with fresh mango essence, tropical fruit relish and whipped cream.
Vegetarian menu to come.
$75 per regular ticket
$30 per student ticket
$600 per table of eight
To reserve your seat today, contact Laura Kennedy at 902.453.1480 ext. 5727. For sponsorship opportunities, contact Amanda Quarmby-Bennett at 902.453.1480 ext. 5725.
Ford and Carnegie (Wednesday, 7pm, KTS Lecture Hall, 2nd Floor, King’s Academic Building)—Mark Burke will talk about “Ford and Carnegie: A Tale of Two Rich Guys.”
The over-the-top media coverage of the trial of a woman accused of having sex on an airplane (I won’t link to it, you can find it yourself) — which is a misdemeanour charge — is a form of slut-shaming, no?
In the harbour
Oceanex Sanderling, St. John’s to Pier 36
I’ve got a curious story I’m working on. Details soon.