This article originally appeared on VICE Canada
Following weeks of public pressure and calls for expulsion, Canada's Dalhousie University has suspended 13 dentistry students who were members of a Facebook group containing graphic rape jokes and sexist comments.
On Monday morning Dalhousie announced the students were suspended from clinical practice, but it's unclear if they will be allowed to attend classes, which for them resume next week.
That afternoon, unsatisfied with the school's decision, an offshoot of the hacker collective Anonymous threatened to release the names of students who participated in the group unless Dalhousie expels them.
The 13-person private Facebook group, dubbed the "DDS 2015 Gentlemen's Club" for its all-male membership, has since been deleted, but leaked screenshots show group members voted on which female classmates they'd most like to "hate fuck," and joked about drugging women with chloroform and nitrous oxide .
In one post, a student wrote: "Penis: The tool used to wean and convert lesbians and virgins into useful productive members of society." Another student commented underneath: "And by productive I'm assuming you mean it inspires them to become chefs, housekeepers, babysitters, etc."
The story first broke on December 15 when CBC published screenshots of the group's conversations with the posters' identities censored.
Two days before Christmas, an Anonymous team announced OpExpelMisogyny and threatened to release the names of the 13 students if Dalhousie didn't expel "all active members and ringleaders" of the Facebook group. Monday, the first day of classes after break, was Dalhousie's deadline.
At noon yesterday, about 200 people gathered outside the building containing the president's office to express their disgust with the handling of the case. At one point they collectively raised their middle fingers toward Dalhousie president Richard Florizone's office.
"We need the university to take immediate concrete action," Jennifer Nowoselski, a vice president of the Dalhousie Student Union, said through a megaphone. "We deserve to feel safe on this campus. We deserve to study on a campus that is free from all forms of oppression. We deserve to sit in a classroom where our peers have not discussed raping us."
Before the winter break, Dalhousie announced the male students involved and the female students affected would take part in a restorative justice process. However, this was met with public ridicule, especially after it became clear the administration didn't consult all the women affected by the Facebook posts.
During a press conference Monday, Dalhousie president Florizone said the decision to suspend the 13 students was made on December 22, but the school didn't announce the suspension until today because he said that one or more men in the group threatened self-harm and the threats were "credible."
While the suspensions are in place, the students can't graduate, the president said.
"We are committed to significant consequences, but those consequences must be based on a just process," he said.
When asked directly if expulsion was on the table, Florizone said that "suspension or expulsion are possibilities but they have to follow the processes."
Following yesterday's rally, the Anonymous group decided the suspension wasn't enough to prevent them from releasing the names.
"It is our opinion Dalhousie University has failed to meet the necessary criteria of our demands," they announced. "Anonymous has therefore decided to release the names of the DDS 2015 Gentlemen at a time of our choosing. We will continue Operation Expel Misogyny until concrete change has been achieved."
Dalhousie can speed up, pause, or slow down the release of names based on the administration's future actions, they said.
"If Dal's not going to take any concrete steps, then somebody has to, is what I keep thinking over and over again," said an Anonymous member who attended the rally.
He said they needed to be expelled not only for a host of moral reasons, but also because their actions violated Dalhousie's Code of Conduct, which clearly states students should not harass, threaten, or discriminate against anyone.
"It's important to release the names because it certainly seems very clear that Dalhousie's not going to expel them," he explained. "I think the best-case scenario at this point, in my personal opinion, is we might see one or two people expelled, and I don't think that's acceptable. I think that people have a right to Google their dentist and find out whether they're skilled, whether they're safe.
"I would hate to see anyone take personal retribution against these guys—I think that would be as morally abhorrent as what they've done," he continued. "But I do think that the general public has a right to know if these guys are going to wind up as licensed, practicing dentists."
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