Letter: Restorative justice is not a solution

written by Samantha Elmsley
December 19, 2014 4:24 pm

Opening my Toronto Metro newspaper on the subway yesterday morning, I was delighted to see an article on my alma mater Dalhousie nestled among its neat green pages. That delight lasted to the end of the headline.

Once again, a Halifax university is making national news for violence against women. The rape chants, the Facebook pages, the frats: something in that sea-salted air gets students frothing for some misogynistic fun. And it was only jokes, right, Gentlemen of DSS 2015? And we can all laugh it off, because who cares if the man who once laughed over hate- fucking one of his colleagues is also the dentist shoving anesthetic down your throat? But it’s unfair of me to pin it all on Halifax student culture. Rape culture is everywhere. It’s in the recording studios at the CBC; it hangs out in workplaces all the time; it permeates thousands of campuses across this country and worldwide.

Which is why Dal needs to set an example. Bringing these men to restorative justice is not a solution; it asks the women involved to become the jury on their own case. While I respect the decision of these women to move forward with this process, I believe it is asking them to assume a role they should not have to step into. Rather, the twelve students involved in the “Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen” Facebook page should be expelled. If Dal administration can do it for plagiarism, surely they can find it within themselves to do it for sexual violence.

Samantha Elmsley was the Gazette’s Opinions Editor for vols. 145 and 146.

One comment on “Letter: Restorative justice is not a solution

  1. John C on

    I agreed with this headline – but that lasted only until I read the letter itself.

    Restorative justice is not a solution. I agree. It’s a process. It is the first step on the path toward a solution. We don’t know where this path will go. It might end in expulsion. It might not work, and the formal route may be required, which will also have an outcome. Some of the women involved may decide not to go that route, as is their right. We don’t know what will happen. Judging a process as if it is a solution doesn’t work. Let the process play out.

    Side note: the Dal administration does not have the power to expel anyone for anything. That authority is held by the academic community, which is mostly faculty and students, and has a set process to follow. So really there are two paths forward:
    – initiating the process of restorative justice, which has a good track record of helping fractured communities heal; or
    – initiating the process of formal student discipline.
    In either process, the outcome is uncertain. The process takes time. And neither path is good for these women; there are simply no good choices, and there haven’t been any since those 12 men made the choices they did.


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