Sexist hate affects many more than just the direct targets. With the author’s permission and her concern for all women, posted here is a patient’s letter to Dalhousie authorities. Please read below how one patient at the clinic has been adversely affected by the hate speech and by the secrecy of Dalhousie’s handling of the aftermath. Clinic patients, are often living in poverty, sometimes disabled and often have a prior experience of sexual victimization if female. They have been excluded from any “restorative justice.”
The author of this letter (sent March 30) has received no acknowledgement or response to it as of May 25, 2015.
UPDATE: May 28, 2015 the author appeared again on CBC, and shortly after received an apology from the Dean of Dentistry for the delayed response. C was invited to meet with the administrators of the restorative justice process.
UPDATE: June17, 2015 the author attended two meetings at Dalhousie, and will share her recommendations here in an upcoming post
(A few edits in square brackets have been made by this blog for clarity)
March 30, 2015
To: Dr. Florizone
Dean of the Dental Clinic
Re: The Dal Dental Clinic 13
Dear Drs. Florizone and Bannerman:
I have been a patient at Dal Dental Clinic since at least since 2010. I was very disturbed by how the events last December with the “Gentlemen’s Club” have been handled particularly as regards the patients. We have not been included in any discussions, nor interviewed about our experiences by the “powers that be.” The 13 were always referred to as “students,” until I spoke out…and pointed out that they were not just students but dentists in a position of trust.
I spoke a little [in the media] about my own experience of retraumatization [after sexual harassment in another context] …in which I couldn’t be in the same building as the person involved …Most of the patients at the Clinic are older women, I’m sure I’m not the only one who might have such a background.
With this background in mind . . . I had an appointment with my “student,” “A”, on January 6th, the first week of classes after the vacation. Late in December he called and left a message to change the appointment to the 20th, as the clinic would be closed for a few weeks because of the controversy.
I didn’t quite know what to do. I didn’t believe he was one of the 13, because he was one of the best dentists I had experienced at the Clinic. He was always considerate and “listened” to my answers and input about my teeth and didn’t cause me pain while working on me. He seemed to be quite popular, though very busy and in demand. I worked with a female dentist for one visit who referred to him rather fondly by a nickname, which later made me think he probably wasn’t “one of them.” But I didn’t “know.”
I decided I needed to find out if he was involved in the FaceBook group. So, I called him back to confirm the appointment change and talked a little about what was going on. He sounded pretty freaked out, worried about his future and the whole situation. I told him that I wanted him to know that I had gone on CBC and I wondered if he had heard me (I was on Stephanie Domet’s Main Street, the evening news and then later I found out I was on the National — gad). He said, “no, no,” he wasn’t watching any news. It was too upsetting. I asked him point blank if he was one of the 13. He said “no.” He also said that he was quite willing to find me a female student, and I said, that “no,” if he wasn’t involved, I wanted to support him, because this had to be difficult for anyone who was graduating from that class and I felt it was important to support anyone not involved. After asking me several more times if I wanted a female student and that he could arrange it, he accepted that I would be coming on the 20th.
I didn’t hear from him after that. I got a call instead from “J”, who I had seen when “A” wasn’t available. “J” said that he was in charge of my case now. I asked about “A” and he said he couldn’t talk about it, which made me wonder if maybe “A” was involved. When I came for my appointment I asked the receptionist if she’d seen “A”. She said, “no.” I talked to her a bit about the situation and how I didn’t like that I couldn’t actually know if he was or wasn’t. The receptionist said that over the past weeks she had been looking to see who wasn’t showing up, since the 13 had been suspended from working in the Clinic. She said she hadn’t seen “A”, that she sympathized, but that she “couldn’t talk about it.”
At my next appointment I asked another receptionist about it. She hadn’t seen him either. She said she “couldn’t talk about it.” She also seemed to be very uncomfortable about being in that position.
Even though I think he would make a good dentist, in terms of his skills and “bedside manner,” he must have lied to me. I am well enough recovered in my process of working through my past that I don’t bear him ill will, but it still feels like a betrayal. Not only by him, but by you.
I would like to be sure. I shouldn’t have to try and figure it out by a process of elimination and inference. I don’t want to do him an injustice if he is not one of “them.” The patients deserve to know. We are a part of this.
By my next appointment, when these letters will go out to you, some of them will be back at the clinic. I feel apprehensive. I shouldn’t have to. “Confidentiality” ends up only protecting the misogynists, making everyone guilty.
You are also doing a real disservice to your employees. They have to lie, or prevaricate. You should not put them in that kind of position. It is wrong.
Do something about it. You have to go all the way and actually name the miscreants. I am sure some are more culpable than others. Some may be “innocent” in that they did not participate actively in rape talk or disrespecting fellow students. They should be cleared. The others should be expelled.