I am contacting you to express my support for your concern over the recent allegations associated with the Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen’s Facebook page.
This type of abusive behaviour concerns me a great deal, primarily as a Dal Grad (PhD, Psychology & Neuroscience, Faculty of Science, 2005) and as someone who has invested significantly in Dalhousie through scholarship (NSERC PGS and PDF fellowships), athletics (player, assistant coach, and trainer for women’s hockey), excellence in teaching (student’s choice “Rookie of the Year”, teaching assistantship award nomination), and community contributions (Student in Neuroscience Society co-chair for several years).
I believe that students like myself over the past 126 years have contributed to the positive image that continues to make Dalhousie a respected university worldwide, particularly as a leader in graduate studies and professional programs, including Dentistry. I also believe that the reputation of Dalhousie, in turn, affects its graduates. Therefore, the actions of current Dalhousie students has the potential to tarnish our reputations. As the CEO of my own company who proudly showcases her degree from Dalhousie, these allegations concern me.
But these allegations are disturbing for a much more fundamental reason. This type of degrading, humiliating, and abusive behaviour seen in the Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen Facebook page must be deemed completely unacceptable, particularly in a world where women’s safety is continually compromised. Any men who participated in the activities suggested should be held accountable and penalized in a manner that sends a strong message that Dalhousie values the safety of it’s female students and of women in general. Under no circumstances should Dalhousie condone such behaviour and must take measures to ensure this behaviour is deemed inexcusable.
I’m reminded of what happened with the women’s hockey team a few years back when Dalhousie sent a strong message of zero-tolerance of the abusive behaviour embedded within athletic hazing. All of Canada watched and learned as Dalhousie became a leader in standing up against abusive behaviour. The women of that cohort were deeply affected by that decision, as will be the men responsible for the Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen’s page, both in terms of their careers and emotionally. Many of those young women’s applications to graduate studies and professional programs were compromised not being able to complete their years of eligibility. Some of those women were innocent bystanders. Nonetheless, Dalhousie’s message was strong: Abusive, degrading, and humiliating behaviour that compromised in the human rights of others was unacceptable and inexcusable.
Those women learned a valuable lesson. In fact, I suspect that athletes from all of Canada heard the message loud and clear. My hope is that same message of zero-tolerance will be sent by Dalhousie as the rest of Canada watches as this horrific tale unfolds. Dalhousie must support an environment that does not condone abusive, degrading, and humiliating behaviour directed toward women or any other human and view this behaviour as unacceptable. If not, I fear for the safety of students on campus today and tomorrow.
Dr. Amanda Wintink, PhD, Class of 2005
To read the story for which this letter was a response, go here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/dalhousie-university-probes-misogynistic-student-gentlemen-s-club-1.2873918.