As a result of Facebook posts he made in what he calls an attempt to slay misogyny on campus, a Dal theatre graduate is now banned from almost all Dalhousie property.
Nick Baros-Johnson has hosted the radio show Suburban Shadows bi-weekly on CKDU 88.1 FM for over two years, broadcasting alternative and industrial music while performing as his vampire-hunting alter ego, John Shadow.
He says he had finished broadcasting his show on Feb. 4 when two Dal Security officers visited the CKDU offices in Dal’s Student Union Building.
The officers had shown up to issue Baros-Johnson an order under the Protection of Property Act. He alleges this is largely because he shared the alleged names of Dalhousie’s 2015 class of dentistry over social media.
For the month of January, incidents of misogyny within Dalhousie’s school of dentistry constantly occupied news media headlines. Reactions on campus were vocal and many – Nick’s response to the news was creating a public Facebook group called Class of DDS 2015 Dudes, a page he says is “pretty much the exact opposite” of the Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen group, where some male dentistry students in the class of 2015 had posted misogynistic comments.
“Feminism: The tool used to wean and convert hateful men into useful, productive members of society,” reads one of Baros-Johnson’s posts in the group.
A poll he created in the group poses the question, “Which ladies at Dalhousie do you wanna respect?”
By the end of January, Baros-Johnson was ready to give the situation a rest as he waited to hear of further developments in the cases of the 13 male dentistry students who were suspended from practicing in Dal’s dental clinic.
But then, one day as he waited in a checkout line while buying groceries, he saw the Jan. 26 issue of local tabloid Frank Magazine bearing the headline, Meet the Dalhousie Dental class of 2015.
“So then I grabbed it, and I flipped the pages over to the news story, but then by the time I got to it, I was like – ‘Oh my God! This is an entire list of the whole class!’ ” says Baros-Johnson.
“‘I need to get it out there, people want to know names.’ ”
The list contains 36 names allegedly belonging to male and female students enrolled in the 2015 graduating class of Dalhousie’s dentistry program.
Baros-Johnson, 25, purchased a copy of the magazine. When he got home he typed the list of names into the Dudes group and shared a link to this post over Twitter.
He also started a series of posts on Twitter with messages aimed towards the women named on the list, asking them to join the conversations happening on the #dalhousiehateswomen hashtag.
The 2013 theatre graduate didn’t attempt to consult with anyone named on the list before posting it. He says he chose to include the names of women as well as the men in the class so “they wouldn’t have to worry about hiding their identities anymore, and some could step up and really give a voice to the whole issue.”
“I feel most of them probably got silenced by the university,” he says.
Baros-Johnson says some of the women he reached out to reported his messages to Dal Security. He says he later apologized to the women for sharing their names, but their reports brought the DDS Class of 2015 Dudes group to the attention of Dal Security.
He says that in addition to the list of names, the officers who approached him were upset with a comment he made after the end of the list: “Now do yourself a favour and beware of all the men. In fact, if you come across any man on this list, kick his ass, ’cause sexism and misogyny have got to end.”
Baros-Johnson says he didn’t intend for that message to be a call to violence.
“I didn’t think they’d take that quite literally, because it has been an expression: ‘Let’s just go kick some ass, man,’ ” he says.
“It’s tough for people to figure out what and what isn’t serious on Facebook anymore, and Twitter.”
For reasons of confidentiality, Dal Security officers cannot comment on individual cases, but a contract shown to the Gazette by Baros-Johnson confirms Dal Security officer Jake MacIsaac issued him an order under the Protection of Property Act on Feb. 4.
The ban warns of the possibility of a fine up to $500 for Baros-Johnson if he appears on any location owned by Dalhousie other than the Student Union Building, which hosts CKDU’s offices; and the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, where he works as an usher.
He believes the ban is unfair, and that if anyone should have been banned from campus, it should have been the men who participated in the Gentlemen group.
“The whole university system in general is just run by too many overprivileged white guys, and this kind of patriarchy, it has to end,” says Baros-Johnson. “There has to be a new way to run universities.”
How do you get banned from Dalhousie?
Dalhousie is a publicly-funded university that owns a major chunk of private property in Halifax.
Campus bans issued by Dal Security are fairly rare. Mike Burns, Dalhousie’s director of security, says seven Protection of Property bans have been issued since Sept. 1, 2014.
In the previous two academic years, four and five orders were issued.
Baros-Johnson alleges he was approached with a ban order by complete surprise, but the situation would have gone differently if he had been a student, according to Dal Security’s protocols.
“It would be most unlikely that we would enforce [the Protection of Property Act] with a student,” says Burns. “That would basically be saying that a student that was enrolled with the university couldn’t attend university.”
When Dal Security witnesses or receives reports of students behaving in a way that may warrant a ban for non-students, their reports go through the university’s official disciplinary channels for students.
Similarly, faculty and staff at Dalhousie have collective agreements that have discipline codes that prevent them from being instantly banned from campus.
For a member of the public to be banned from campus, says Burns, you would first have to engage in behaviour that is unwanted, or that a reasonable person should be aware is unwanted.
“Or, that you engage in any threatening type of behaviour. Or you’re caught on campus and you were willfully committing property damage or engaging in harassing behaviour of staff or students,” says Burns.
When Dal Security issues bans, they are not required to report their actions to the Office of the Registar or university administration.
Meanwhile, depending on how far the ban extends, a ban from campus may effectively prevent a banned person from becoming a Dalhousie student or gaining employment on campus.
Burns says if someone was banned from campus but wished to enrol at Dalhousie, that wish would form the basis of their appeal. He says no one has attempted to appeal a ban this year.
The extent of bans can be tailored to individual cases, according to Burns.
When someone is witnessed violating the ban, Dal Security may call Halifax Regional Police.
“The police would come down […] and they could, if they felt that there was reasonable grounds, and security’s claims was substantiated, issue a ticket under the provincial protection of property act,” says Burns.
Anyone issued a ticket would have the chance to contest the charge in court.
Burns says he cannot speak to the nature of any of the bans that have been issued this year.
Suburban Shadows airs bi-weekly on CKDU 88.FM on Wednesdays from 2:30 to 4 p.m. You can listen to previous broadcasts here.