Dalhousie dentistry faculty probe to continue

Florizone pleased, DSU's Skiptunis fed up with senate's decision

Dal president Richard Florizone speaks to the media after Monday's senate meeting. Photo: Graeme Benjamin
Dal president Richard Florizone speaks to the media after Monday’s senate meeting. Photo: Graeme Benjamin

Dalhousie’s senate has endorsed a task force on misogyny, sexism and homophobia within the university’s faculty of dentistry.

The passed motion will see Dalhousie president Richard Florizone consult the senate planning and governance committee before making changes to the terms of reference.

The investigation into the faculty of dentistry will continue to be conducted by the school’s Academic Standards Class Committee (ASCC), rather than externally by the senate, as some senators requested during last week’s senate meeting.

Florizone said the ASCC will continue to conduct the investigation because it is consistent with university policy.

“In these instances, based on the best internal and external advice, that this rests with the Academic Standards Class Committee,” Florizone said as he was leaving the meeting.

Jacqueline Skiptunis, vice-president of academic and external of the DSU, was angry with how the meeting was conducted.

“They’re absolutely in-transparent. In fact, they’re completely opaque,” she said. “That meeting was totally unacceptable, unprofessional and the most unfortunate thing that possibly could have happened.”

The Dal senate is meeting behind closed doors this evening. Photo: Graeme Benjamin
The Dal senate met behind closed doors this evening. Photo: Graeme Benjamin

Skiptunis also said there was, similar to last week’s meeting, a motion to extend the meeting to discuss matters further. The motion was, once again, denied.

“I’m so unimpressed with the members of senate that can’t give 15 extra minutes of their time,” she said. “It’s just really appalling.”

Senate chairman Alan Pinder did not speak to the tone of the meeting or the other proposed motions, as the meeting was held exclusively for senate members.

Pinder said the meeting was held in-camera because the university’s council had to make several comments on legal processes and to “make sure the senators are comfortable and can have a completely open and frank discussion.”

Senate chairman Alan Pinder explains the past motion to the media. Photo: Graeme Benjamin
Senate chairman Alan Pinder explains the motion to the media. Photo: Graeme Benjamin

Florizone was asked after the meeting if the university policy addresses when a faculty that’s being investigated can also at the same time investigate a faculty. Skiptunis clapped from the side after the question was asked.

“I think the issue here is we have enough concern about the faculty of dentistry to have our external task force and that external review,” said Florizone. “But if we look overall at the governance of the faculty of dentistry … that’s very much in place.”

When asked if the investigation conducted by the ASCC is best for those upset in the community and dental associations across the province, Florizone acknowledged the public’s concern, and noted the discussion of placing an external observer over the ASCC. He also reiterated the importance of a just process.

“Of course we want to stick to (a just process) because it’s right, but if we don’t stick to it, of course, everything could get overturned.”

Florizone said there won’t be immediate consequences, as the restorative justice process takes time.

Dean of dentistry Tom Boran leaves meeting without answering media's questions. Photo: Graeme Benjamin
Dean of dentistry Tom Boran leaves meeting without answering media’s questions. Photo: Graeme Benjamin

“We’re all committed to significant consequences in this,” said Florizone, “but to get there we’ve got to follow a just process that follows the law, that follows university policy and supports the rights of everyone involved.”

Dalhousie dean of dentistry Tom Boran left the meeting without answering questions.

The senate will return to its regular agenda next Monday at 4 p.m.