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Conviction before an Investigation Takes Rights away from both the Victims and the Accused
A recent uproar at the Dalhousie Dentistry educational institution is leaving both sides of the argument feeling wronged. The controversy is based on the supposed remarks posted on a private Facebook page for a group referred to as the “Class of DDS Gentlemen” which includes 13 members. It recently came to light that some of the students have been accused of posting violently sexual remarks directed towards women on that Facebook page. Some of the comments directly reference students from that dentistry class. The editorial argues that the partial suspension is only beneficial for the culprits and in no way helps to support the victims in which the harmful sexual comments were directed towards. I support this editorial’s perspective about the way the school handled this case which illustrates a lack of consistency. The attention given to the perspective of the victims that are involved with this case is not justified but I will be critiquing the author’s reasoning and arguing that the accused students should be suspended. I will argue that not all 13 students should be reprimanded based on the information provided within this editorial as this piece illustrates a complex view of which members are truly the wrongdoers. I will also argue that a variation of classes should be offered based on the partial suspension the school has initiated to honour the idea that no suspect should be deemed guilty before a proper evaluation of all the information.
The author of this editorial strongly argues that all 13 members of this Facebook page should be suspended based on what was posted on Facebook. The author clearly states. “the violent, misogynist comments posted by some of the members of the private Facebook page called “Class of DDS Gentlemen”” (Thestar.com). Comments referenced some female students from the class, asking “‘who would you like to hate f—k?’ — where they rated their choices. Other posts joked about using chloroform on women. In another post, a woman is shown in a bikini with a caption that says ‘Bang until stress is relieved or unconscious (girl)’” (Thestar.com). The severity of the supposed postings by some members of this class illustrates the violent sexual content illustrating the need to investigate those who posted this information. Not all 13 students should be punished if they did not all make any comments connected with this harmful content. The first thing that must be reviewed is exactly which members of the group directly posted the comments or supporting discussion that was linked to a sexually violent nature of conversation.
The author’s argument that the school did not handle the situation properly is relevant, however the outcome that is proposed defies the legal system that is meant to operate in a fair and just manner. Firstly the author is correct in indicating anger that it was “nearly a month after women complained” that something was done by the school. In support of following the proper procedures of a justice system the school should have acted immediately. The author indicates that the action should have been a full suspension. The argument that is offered indicates “so far. Dalhousie has gone a long way towards balancing the rights of the accused and those of potential victims. However, it has fallen short on one important point: it should suspend the 13 men involved from classes as well as clinics” (Thestar.com). The point is not well argued as it defies the very idea of rights that entitle the accused to a fair proceeding. The school has suspended the
students partially indicating a grave concern that these men are in contact with innocent patients within the clinical component of this semester. The author argues, “the partial suspension is serious. 13 fourth-year students cannot work with patients or classmates in the school’s dental clinic, a requirement for graduation this spring” (Thestar.com). The fact that the school has taken action to protect patients is a strong argument that is presented by the author. In agreeing with this opinion, the lack of attention to the female students in the class is alarming, as they have either directly or indirectly have been spoken about within a violent and sexualized context by those accused fellow classmates. The author’s concern is valid, however, I will argue that they should not be suspended from class but should be offered an independent study period while the accusations are being investigated.
The first issue that is recognized within this editorial is the wrongful grouping of all members of this Facebook group as being regarded as directly involved with the accusations that are being made. The author argues that some of the members posted those comments. It is recognized that simply being a part of a group does not make everyone necessarily responsible for the deeds that may be performed by several members of that party. The author of this editorial indicates that those who are guilty of posting such degrading and violently abusive comments should be punished. This is justifiable; however, the need to ensure that those who are guilty of these very actions that are being described must be clarified. This editorial continuously calls for the suspension of all 13 men; however, this is a flawed argument. The need to act in a just manner as argued in the editorial on behalf of the victims should also be extended to those who may be in the group but may not have offered any of the negative remarks being reviewed. The recognition that there could be members of the group who may not have added comments must be acknowledged. It is important to ensure only those connected with posting those comments face the ramifications of being investigated and facing the temporary rules issued by the school during this process.
The second argument offered reinforces the necessity of issuing a fair trial to ensure that both sides of this conflict are treated in a just manner. The editorial suggests for the immediate suspension from all classes of the 13 members of this Facebook group. That is unfair to the rights of those who currently have been accused of this action. The need for a fair trial is necessary before such extreme and final action can be made. That direct suspension could jeopardize the school career of these students. Should they be found innocent, or connected to foul play this represents an unfair situation for the students. The editorial indicates that the victims should be treated with respect and that a balance needs to be struck between the opposing parties. That being said the author is correct that the balance of justice should be maintained. The proposition that should be offered is a compromise between what the editorial has suggested as well as the actions that the school has taken. To suspend the students is to illustrate that they are guilty but this has not been determined as yet as the investigation is still under way. The school has already acted in a harmful manner by taking action a month after the information was brought to their attention. The suggestion is to let the accused student’s remain connected with the professors (outside of the classroom) based on the current scenario. They have paid their tuition and are entitled to be educated until this matter is fully investigated and resolved. The school feels that they should not be able to interact with clinical patients to protect those individuals should these students be found of wrongdoing. That being said, that same courtesy must be extended to the other students in the classroom. Specific females in the class were ridiculed and referenced in a sexually violent manner that is quite disturbing. Their rights must be protected as they may feel threatened and the school must act accordingly. Another example that may be used to offer a correlation to this case could be reviewed in the case of a parent who may be accessed of abuse. The children are removed from custody to ensure that they are protected while the matter is investigated. The school must also protect these female students during this time. The suggestion, however, of suspending the accused students fails to ensure the rights of those men. The editorial argues for the balance of rights to be performed within this scenario. To ensure the women are offered a fair set of rights also means the accused men should also be treated in a fair manner. Justice can only work if everyone is treated equally. If the justice system does not adhere to that model of equilibrium, then no one is safe, undermining the freedom of everyone. The editorial does not offer a sense of balance as suggested by the need for suspension as that illustrates a commentary of guilty before a trial has even begun. The women must be protected and creating an alternative level of study for the accused students becomes pertinent as further investigations are completed.
The editorial takes a strong stance on the actions that Dalhousie has taken in light of the postings that have been made public. The necessity to be ready to properly deal with these types of concerns swiftly and justly illustrates the need to protect victims at the centre of these cases. The editorial rightfully highlights an imbalance between the victims and the suspected culprits. The flaw in this work indicates the passing of judgment before a rightful investigation has been made. Accusing all 13 men and saying they must be suspended undermines the integrity of the justice system. To use the justice system to protect these women means adhering to the rules that govern that very system. Firstly, the determination of the men who are connected to the comments should be found. Only those men should be offered another form of schooling outside of the current parameters of class lectures and clinical practice. The school’s failure to immediately address this issue is where the tension of being perceived as flippant about the safety and well-being of the victims is recognized. One month is far too long to take action against the allegations of sexually violent comments being made against classmates. The school must set an example that they will immediately act in a fair manner to both sides to ensure that the reputation of the school is not tarnished. Suspending the students before a full investigation of the case fails to respect the justice system. The fulfillment of the guidelines that promote justice is necessary to protect these women as well as those only suspected of this crime. The responsible thing to do is to act right away and prevent any emotional turmoil, which results in the suspected students being investigated while continuing their classes in a diminished and altered capacity. The threat of sexual violence, even in a joking manner, is unethical and to combat that problem acting in an ethical and just way is necessary and can only be achieved by fulfilling a thorough investigation and maintaining the rights of all parties at all times.
“Dalhousie Should Suspend Accused Dental Students from Classes: Editorial.”
Thestar.com. The Star, 6 Jan. 2015. Web.
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