Dalhousie’s decisions shouldn’t be influenced by angry public

Dalhousie University has faced a barrage of criticism over their decision to discipline 13 dentistry students who posted misogynistic and hateful comments about their female classmates to a Facebook group.

While the university is still working through its own process regarding the situation, the outside world has taken it into their own hands to demand their own idea of discipline be applied to these students. Through numerous petitions, editorials and online posts, people have suggested expulsions, public shaming, criminal charges and even encouraged potential vigilante vengeance in the name of the fight against misogyny. Everybody feels they’re in the right with their suggestion, but they’re overlooking one key factor: it’s not up to anybody but the university to decide justifiable disciplinary action for their students.

We should all oppose misogyny and the ideas these students’ comments portray. It’s barely worth arguing this point — the disgusting frame of mind these students reflect has no place in our society, let alone among healthcare professionals. If you look at any university’s code of student conduct, it’s guaranteed to include principles such as honesty, respect and non-violence. When students break this conduct, it’s up to the university to take disciplinary action.

If a group of students were caught cheating on an exam, it would be up to the university to deal with them accordingly. We would expect they follow the rules of conduct they’ve set to deal with the students in question. The identities of the perpetrators and their punishment wouldn’t be the business of anyone else who caught wind of the scandal.

Why do we see this situation differently? What likely plays a big role in this is the recent numerous university scandals across Canada claimed as examples of a “rape culture” that exists in universities. But it’s not clear whether the context of the situation puts the decision out of the hands of the university. The severity and implications of this scandal might be greater than that of a cheating scandal, but then these issues can be addressed separately.

If there was indeed harassment of certain women in this case, then that can be taken up as a separate issue. If there were other illegal activities revealed through the group, then again, these can be addressed separately. And if there were things that are neither illegal nor against the code of conduct and expectations put in place by the university, then no action should be taken. Whether certain policies need revision might be a valid question, but either way, these decisions are not up to the will of a vicious mob whose only context of the situation comes from a few screenshots and a few potentially sensationalized articles.

People selectively put their faith in the established justice system only when it suits their needs. When they disagree with the established process, they advocate for exceptions to this process. If there’s a problem with the system, then advocate to change the system — not to oppose the system’s decision.

Related Articles

Back to top button