The public research university in Nova Scotia was roiled by protest last year when misogynistic and violent comments about female students were discovered on a graduate dentistry group Facebook page. The task force was convened to look into equity issues within inside the Faculty of Dentistry, to review policies and procedures, and to provide some broader context for the University. One of the specific recommendations was to reinstate an Ombuds program that had been closed almost three years ago:
We heard from a number of groups that the University had a part-time ombudsperson for students, jointly funded by the Dalhousie Student Union, but that this position has been eliminated. Many Canadian universities have an independent ombudsperson funded by the institution. Such offices may serve students, staff and/or faculty. Although they are a place of last resort, when no policy or process appears to fit the problem, they also provide a visible portal for those who do not know where to go to raise a concern. Such offices can be very effective in identifying systemic issues and emerging areas of concern, and can report on these matters to the University. We believe an ombudsperson would be a valuable addition to Dalhousie’s processes for dealing with complaints on all aspects of University life, and in particular, on sexism, misogyny, racism, and homophobia.(Dalhousie Task Force Report; CBC News.)
Related posts: Dalhousie University Ombuds Hopes to Reverse Declining Caseload; Association of Canadian College and University Ombudspersons Publishes Standards of Practice; ACCUO Chronicles Three Decades of Ombuds in Higher Education; Dental School Scandal Highlights Loss of Ombuds Program at Dalhousie.