You are on page 1of 27



Although the Dentistry Scandal may now be last weeks news story, some members of
the media are contacting our office seeking a status update on Ryan Millet and his
response to the Backhouse Task Force Report. We are therefore circulating this
backgrounder to any members of the media who previously inquired of Ryan Millet.
Attached you will find a copy of our open letter to President Florizone, delivered last
week. It details Ryans current status. It raises some disturbing issues. It references a
few matters that Ryan has not previously shared publicly, including the fact that
Dalhousie recommended that, if licensing authorities asked him whether he had
ever been suspended, he could answer no. Ryan has refused to do so, because
he knows that would be both dishonest and unprofessional.
I am also attaching the response we received today from the global law firm of Norton
Rose Fulbright, written on behalf of Dalhousie. Despite all the issues identified by the
Backhouse Task Force and described in our letter of last week, little appears to have
changed: this lawyerly letter of rejection confirms that Ryan Millet has a record that he
engaged in unprofessional conduct. It notes that Ryan Millet could have appealed
through to the Main Academic Standards Committee of the Faculty of Dentistry, despite
Professor Backhouses concerns about conflict of interest and lack of jurisdiction of all
members of the Faculty of Dentistry. It ignores the fact that in February Ryan appealed
directly to the President and the Chair of the Senate. It takes refuge under the
constrained terms of the Task Force, which had no mandate to assign blame. It refuses
to provide the requested hand up to Ryan Millet. It instead adopts the same adversarial
tone that has been the pattern of Dalhousies communications with Ryan Millet since the
inception of this controversy.
There is an old adage: surgery successful, but the patient died. That describes how
Ryan feels about his treatment at the hands of Dalhousie.
President Florizone at his Press Conference last week publicly endorsed all 39 of the
systemic Recommendations from the Task Force Report. That is all to the good.

However, Ryan believes that Dalhousie has conveniently chosen to focus on systemic
changes in attitudes on a go forward basis, while ignoring accountability and those
students who were directly harmed by the inept handling of this matter. That Press
Conference provided the predictable short sound bites and generic statements from the
President about moving forward. There was no focus on accountability or looking
backwards. In contrast, a careful reading of the Task Force Report shows it was bluntly
critical of the many ways Ryan and others were unfairly mistreated. The attached open
letter lists those critiques.
Ryan Millet remains unemployable as a dentist, despite having received his dental
degree. He has been offered employment in the U.S., but he is still trying to convince
American licensing authorities that he is not a sexist, misogynist and homophobic
professional. If he gets licensing approval, it may come attached to further punitive
restrictions. While his wife had hoped to be a stay at home parent, looking after their
three very young children, she has had to return to the workplace, while Ryan stays at
home and looks after their children. He does not know when, if at all, he will be cleared
by American licensing authorities. All of this, for trying to do the right thing.
The Backhouse Task Force Report remarkably mirrors and has now legitimized the long
list of concerns that Ryan and his counsel originally brought directly to President
Florizones attention several months ago, all of which fell on deaf ears. The Backhouse
Report validates the mistreatment of Ryan and others, including:

undue pressure to join restorative justice;

questionable and premature use of restorative justice in place of proper
conflict of interest and lack of impartiality within the Academic Standards Class
concealment of complaints against faculty who were simultaneously claiming to
sit in judgment of Ryan;
allegations of non-existent threats to student and patient safety;
hijacking of the Senate approved discipline process by the Faculty of Dentistry;
the circumvention of due process and procedural fairness provided to all other
Dalhousie students, other than the Facebook 13.

While systemic, attitudinal changes towards sexism, misogyny and homophobia are
now purportedly underway at Dalhousie, the same players are in the same positions.
Todays myopic response suggests that insight and perspectives have not changed
much either, at least with respect to fair treatment of students. Ryan has been left to
fend on his own, without any offer of assistance or making of amends.
For those members of the media who wish to scratch below the veneer of last weeks
public response by the President, the attached open letter may be of interest. Ryan is
hoping that others, including the Dalhousie Senate, will take up the torch of
accountability that he is presently incapable of carrying further.

Ryan Millet will not be available directly to the media, at least for the time being. The
attached letter to the President is intended to speak on his behalf, until he is in a better
position to do so directly.

June 30, 2015

Dalhousie University
PO Box 15000
Halifax NS B3H 4R2

Dr. Richard Florizone, President

Mr. President:

Ryan Millets Vindication: The Backhouse Task Force Report


I am writing you as the principal spokesperson for Dalhousie on the Backhouse Report.
I am copying the Chair of Senate, for the Senate has ultimate constitutional jurisdiction
over student conduct. I request this letter be circulated to all members of the Senate.
This letter is an unconventional piece of advocacy on behalf of Ryan Millet, who has
now graduated from and departed Dalhousie. The hearings are over. Ryan feels entitled
to address his President and Senate directly.
There has been much spilt ink and expended effort to address the fallout from the
Dental School Scandal:
Ryan himself was subjected to protracted and totally futile legal proceedings to
clear his professional reputation and remove the stain of blatant
unprofessionalism, which remains a matter of record
The Dean of the Law School championed the first formal Report: BELONG:
Next came the self-congratulatory RESTORATIVE JUSTICE REPORT.

Dr. Richard Florizone

June 30, 2015
Page 2
Now we have the insightful and provocative BACKHOUSE TASK FORCE ON
Amidst all of that systemic effort, Dalhousie appears to have forgotten the student
victims it has left in its wake, victims clearly identified in all but name in the Task Force
Report. Perhaps second only to Student A, Ryan Millet (described as Student B in the
Task Force Report) has been victimized by the extraordinarily long list of substantive
and procedural shortcomings identified in both the Task Force Report and even in the
RJ Report.
I am reminded of the old adage: surgery successful, but the patient died. That perhaps
describes how Ryan Millet feels about his treatment at the hands of Dalhousie. While
the announced systemic and institutional reforms identified by the Task Force are
imperative, no one seems to make the linkage between the need for those reforms and
the impetus for those reforms, many of which were built on the back of Ryan Millets
efforts. A significant portion of the Task Force Report embraces the very same issues
Ryan first tried to bring to your attention in our letter and Brief to you of February 11th.
As you know, each and every one of those concerns fell on deaf ears. The ASC
Committee proceeded full steam ahead with the continuing and now much discredited
suspension and remediation.

In the inevitable rush to report and absorb a hundred page Task Force Report,
sometimes only small snippets get absorbed. The purpose of this letter is to ensure both
the Presidents Office and all members of the Senate are provided the devastating
context of the Backhouse Task Force Report, as seen through the singular lens of Ryan
Millet, a Good Samaritan, who was severely punished and vilified in very hurtful ways,
for doing the right things, over a protracted period of time, long before the Facebook
Scandal of December 2014.

Dr. Richard Florizone

June 30, 2015
Page 3
The Backhouse Task Force delivered as requested, with independence, integrity and
sensitivity. It had no authority to judge or find culpability, but a careful reading of its
findings leads inexorably to accountability. While couched in non-adversarial language
that was their mandate, their findings and observations are devastating to the positions
Dalhousie took against Ryan Millet. While it is for Dalhousie to sort out those issues of
accountability, it is appropriate for Ryan to seek remedy and rehabilitation, through the
President and/or the Senate.
This extraordinary indictment of the way matters were handled cannot come as a
surprise to you or the Chair of the Senate. My conciliatory olive branch extended to you
and the Chair of Senate of February 11, 2015, identifying the issues and requesting that
matters be restarted on a proper footing without attribution of fault, is almost a mirror
reflection of the eventual findings of the Task Force. That written Brief of more than 60
pages articulated all of the abuses of process and questionable issues and choices that
the Task Force has now made a matter of record. Our early objections were the genesis
of much of the legal components of the Task Force Report. Our objections, if far too late
in the day, have finally been legitimized by your own Task Force.
Those objections and concerns went largely unanswered, both by you and by the ASC
Committee. That deafening legal silence, and the refusal to even explain or answer or
rebut, was unprecedented in my several decades of experience in dealing with such
matters. That non-responsiveness was arguably disrespectful, both of Ryan and of his
counsel. The costly price of that silence has only been magnified by the fact the Task
Force has now legitimized what Dalhousie deliberately chose to disregard, much to
Ryans personal detriment. Our early list of objections and concerns described to you in
our conciliatory February 11th overture included:
1. Public outrage and crisis management rather than due process investigation,
adjudication and procedural fairness were the catalyst for Ryans suspension from
clinic and class. Dalhousie allowed its crisis management approach to trump its
obligations of due process;
2. The University and/or the Faculty of Dentistry had
investigate the Facebook matter. Without authority to
post-suspension investigation of Ryans conduct, and
students, to the informal restorative justice process.
substitute investigative process was created;

a positive duty to properly

do so, the ASCC delegated
the conduct of the other 12
When Ryan opted out, no

3. The intermingling of the ASCC process with the Restorative Justice process was
inappropriate. The result was a process which lacked procedural fairness, resulted
in confusion about confidentiality and accountability, and placed undue pressure on
students to join the restorative justice initiative;

Dr. Richard Florizone

June 30, 2015
Page 4
4. The ASCC did not have the jurisdiction or the expertise to hear and decide what was
ultimately a disciplinary issue, notwithstanding the Universitys assertions that it was
merely a professionalism evaluation;
5. Ryan posed no real or perceived threat to the safety of his classmates, patients or
members of the University community. In the absence of such safety concerns, his
lengthy suspension was not warranted;
6. Students have the implicit right to be forewarned by the University of any standards
by which they may be judged and held accountable, including any new standard of
social media accountability. No forewarning was provided to students of the
Universitys new gold standard of accountability for even passive membership in
social media groups;
7. The evaluation of students professionalism was intended to be restricted to activities
within clinic. The continuation of Ryans suspension, in the absence of an ongoing
concern about safety or professionalism, was unwarranted and beyond the scope of
the ASCCs authority;
8. Ryan was entitled to appear before an impartial adjudicative body which followed
due process and adhered to principles of procedural fairness. The ASCC lacked
impartiality, jurisdiction and expertise and its processes breached the Universitys
obligation to provide students with due process and procedural fairness in
adjudicative hearings;
9. Faculty and staff were unable to speak freely on the Facebook issue, or in support of
Ryan. This resulted in an interference with evidence available in Ryans defence;
10. Ryan has suffered direct harm, both personally and professionally, as a result of the
Universitys improper handling of the Facebook situation.
Our proposal was respectful and modest, to a fault. We did not ask that Ryan be
cleared. We simply asked that Dalhousie follow and respect its own policies and
procedures, including due process and procedural fairness. We asked that the process
be restarted, independent of a Faculty of Dentistry that had no jurisdiction to be
handling student discipline and which in any event was partial and in conflict of interest.
Your response: take it up with the ASC Committee. How different could have been the
outcome, both for Ryan and for Dalhousie, had our recommendations been adopted.
Ryan Millet now looks to Dalhousie to provide the fair and just outcome and
accountability that you have repeatedly and very publicly promised over the last several
months. While Ryan appreciates that you have already committed to implementing all of
the 39 Recommendations of the Task Force, systemic change is not enough. He asks
that you also right the wrongs done to him, as best as you are able.

Dr. Richard Florizone

June 30, 2015
Page 5
Our earlier plea for your intervention did not go totally unanswered. There was one very
troublesome exception. Instead of accepting the olive branch we extended, I was invited
to encourage Ryan to fall in line with the others, or face the dire consequences of a
formal, written finding of unprofessionalism. Instead of addressing any of the
concerns we raised, I was instead encouraged to advise Ryan to mislead and
misinform all licensing authorities to whom he would be applying. Specifically,
Ryan was encouraged to make no mention of his two month suspension and the finding
of blatant unprofessionalism, when applying to licensing authorities. Instead, through
legal sophistry that was the mantra of the ASC Committee, Ryan was told, via his
counsel, that his suspension for academic unprofessionalism was not a suspension at
In specific reference to a question on the Nevada State Board of Examiners: HAVE
that Ryan check the NO box. We were told that nothing of the blatant
unprofessionalism or indefinite suspension would appear on Ryans Student
Record, nor would any mention be made of it, if Dalhousie were contacted for a
reference check by any licensing authority. That was the solution your
Administration, not the ASC Committee, offered to Ryan.
To say that my law partner Sarah MacIntosh and I were shocked at that proposition
from Administration would be an understatement. In our opinion, we were being
encouraged to counsel our client to mislead and misinform a licensing authority,
an act of unprofessionalism that would have severe professional consequences
for Ryan. The irony regarding standards of professionalism was not lost on us. The
irony was also not lost on Ryan: he understood he was being invited to mislead and
deceive his US licensing authority, by a University that had found him guilty of blatant
Very shortly thereafter, we broke off from the only dialogue we had opened with your
Our indignation today is the same as it was when we first heard this preposterous
proposition: it is a game of interpretive smoke and mirrors that has no place in the
professional education of dental students. It is a rationalization straight out of Alice
in Wonderland. A suspension is a suspension, except when Dalhousie says it is not a
suspension. Sir, I invite you to try to explain to Ryan, his wife JaNae, his 3 children, his
patients, his friends and his faith community that he never suffered the indignity of a
nationally advertised two month suspension from both clinic and regular classes.
We have reason to believe that this same type of rationalization and advice was being
provided to the other 12 suspended students in the RJ process. If that was an
enticement being offered by the Faculty of Dentistry or the RJ facilitators, then that is a
matter of accountability for someone to address.

Dr. Richard Florizone

June 30, 2015
Page 6
Ryan was pleased when he learned of the recent steps taken by the Government of
Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Provincial Dental Board to plug this Dalhousie
inspired loophole, by amending the legislation to mandate such disclosure.
Ryan was not amused when the Chair of his ASC Committee on April 15, 2015, wrote to
all students and expressed her surprise by these new licensing and disclosure
requirements. She wanted all students to be aware that the Faculty of Dentistry was not
consulted on these changes and that the Faculty of Dentistry intended to reach out to
the Provincial Dental Board to discuss the implications of those changes to all
suspended students.
Ryan requests that you make due diligence inquiries to determine what
assurances and representations were provided to students and whether those
assurances and representations met the standards of professionalism that have
been so publicly espoused by Dalhousie and the Faculty of Dentistry.


We remind you that the Task Force specifically noted that Ryan has suffered
specific individual harm1 as a consequence of the manner of his treatment by
The Task Force understates the impact this Dental School Scandal has had on the
personal life of Ryan Millet. The Report describes Ryan as feeling like a scapegoat for
the actions of others.2 Ryan felt he was vilified and shunned3, especially by the
Restorative Justice (RJ) process, both for initially stepping forward and by subsequently
refusing to participate in what he was legally advised was a fundamentally flawed and
unfair process.
Ryan Millets name has become inextricably linked with the Dental School Scandal. As
the Task Force noted, his name has become almost a household word4. It is a
notoriety Ryan did not invite. His public outing was the direct consequence of the public
demonization of all 13 students, that Dalhousie created by lumping all of them in the
same disciplinary pot, without any semblance of due diligence or investigation or
explanation. This self-identification to the public was the unavoidable consequence of
Dalhousies incompetent and unfair handling of the Scandal: Ryan felt it necessary for
someone to set the record straight, since Dalhousie itself appeared incapable of doing
Mr. President, I want you and members of your Senate to know directly what
Dalhousies actions have done to a young man who tried to do the right things, under

Dr. Richard Florizone

June 30, 2015
Page 7
very trying circumstances. Those trying circumstances, and the sexist, misogynist and
homophobic climate and culture of the Faculty of Dentistry, have now been well
chronicled by both your Task Force and the RJ Report. We have previously noted that
Ryan is neither saint nor sinner, but, based on our dealings with him, we are satisfied
that he has conducted himself at least as appropriately and professionally as most of
your students and faculty at Dalhousie. Yet he was treated far differently, with
consequences that gave the false impression that Dalhousie was handling this Scandal
firmly and fairly.
After four years of intense academic effort at Dalhousie Dental School, with an
accumulated student loan debt of some $400,000, Ryan and his Family departed Nova
Scotia as soon as the ASCC released its chains and told him he had qualified for
graduation. Today, Ryan Millet is back in Utah, living at home under the roof and
auspices of his parents, something he thought he would never again have to request.
He is unemployed and providing childcare to his three young children. His wife JaNae
prefers to be a stay at home mom, but has been required to re-enter the workforce to
provide some source of income for their Family.
Ryan will be a very good dentist, if ever given the chance. The unsolicited written
accolades from his Dalhousie patients, which fell on the deaf ears of the ASCC, speak
to his character and competence as a dentist. He has already been offered a very good
position, but is unable to commence work until he receives licensing approval from the
State of Oregon. Ryan has disclosed his predicament to the Oregon Board of Dentistry
and that Board is presently conducting its own due diligence investigation. Ryan does
not know how long that investigation will take or what its outcome will be. He is fearful
that oversight mentoring may be imposed, which will disqualify him for the position he
has been offered. Each passing month of unemployment results in significant lost
income, while his student debt continues to accumulate. Ryan resents the fact that all of
this is the direct consequence of Dalhousies unfair treatment of him.


Power to Suspend
From earliest days, including in our letter to you of February 11 th, we insisted that the
Assistant Dean Clinic, Dr. Blaine Cleghorn, had no authority to use his limited powers of
suspension to sanction private Facebook exchanges. The very limited powers
delegated to him by the Senate pertained to Clinic-related activities. The repugnant
Facebook entries were not Clinic-related. Such offensive student misconduct has
always been the jurisdiction of the Vice-Provost, who deals with student discipline and
who has the full panoply of due process, procedural fairness and experienced
Committee members to deal with such disciplinary defaults.

Dr. Richard Florizone

June 30, 2015
Page 8
The proper tool for investigating and adjudicating such sexist, misogynist and
homophobic misconduct was the Student Code of Conduct, with all its checks, balances
and due process. Ryan was denied all of those legal protections for reasons we always
argued were suspect. Now our suspicions have been documented by the Task Force.
The Task Force verifies that Dr. Cleghorns use of the Faculty of Dentistry Policy &
Procedures Manual was unprecedented. We argued it was the unauthorized creation of
a brand new form of discipline, camouflaged as academic professionalism, which the
Senate specifically prohibits. This hijacking of well-established due process had the
convenient consequence of keeping matters confidential within the closed walls of the
Dental School. The Task Force has now corroborated our objections. The Task Force
also noted that those in charge of Ryans prosecution created the perception that they
were not sure what to do and were adapting and creating processes on the fly.5
Given the seriousness of the crisis to Dalhousie, and the number of advisors that were
providing you counsel and advice, how could that be? How could that have happened?
We tried to convince both you and the ASCC that nothing within the Constitution of
Dalhousie or the various delegations of authority from the Senate, granted either the
Faculty of Dentistry or the Assistant Dean Clinic jurisdiction over a Facebook complaint
that was already being investigated in the normal fashion by the Vice-Provost. We tried
to convince yourself and the ASCC that the private Facebook entries, no matter how
repugnant, were not Clinic related and should fall under normal student discipline
procedures, with all the mature checks, balances, training and experience that those
bodies already possess. Unlike committees of the Senate, neither the Assistant Dean
Clinic or the ASCC had any experience or mandated training in this unprecedented
exercise of indefinite suspension, camouflaged as an exercise of academic
professionalism. The Task Force embraced our objections about this unprecedented
power grab, that conveniently kept matters private and confidential within the Faculty of
Customizing the ASCC process also raises fairness concerns. The
Clinic Policy and Procedure Manual and the ASCCs terms of reference
do not appear to contemplate that the Clinic Assistant Deans powers to
suspend, and the ASCCs power to confirm suspensions, apply to a
situation like this, involving a large group of students, and conduct that
occurred outside of the ClinicThe ASCC created a special process for
the suspended students in its January 6th Decision, but gave no
information about the factors it considered in doing so. Together with the
fact that it gave no notice to those affected and did not hear from
them, the fairness of customizing the ASCC process is questionable.
Assistant Dean Clinic Cleghorn was Ryans prosecuting officer. The Task Force says
his decision making process raises substantial fairness concerns.6 The Task Force
described Ryans suspension as uncertain, indefinite and without precedent. 7 The Task
Force also impugned the subsequent Decision of the ASCC to suspend from regular

Dr. Richard Florizone

June 30, 2015
Page 9
classes, as well as Clinic: the Task Force said this classroom suspension also raised
issues of fairness and that it was unclear what evidence could support triggering of such
a sanction. The Task Force said it was unclear what authority the ASCC had to suspend
from regular classes in the first place, all of which contributed to the perception of
The Task Force noted that Dr. Cleghorns initiatives had significant consequences for
the students.9 The Report noted neither Ryan nor others were given the required prior
notice of possible suspension, nor any opportunity to provide their perspectives before
suspension was imposed.10 The Task Force said there was no demonstrated need for
action that would warrant such unilateral suspension.11 The Task Force reiterated the
basics of procedural fairness, which requires prior notice, an opportunity to be heard
and disclosed reasons for suspension, none of which were provided to Ryan or others.12
The Report says that the practical effect of this unprecedented seizure of jurisdiction by
the Assistant Dean Clinic was to preclude an external formal process in favour of an
internal confidential process.13 The Task Force found that troubling, given that the initial
complaints of the four students were not only about the Facebook pages, but also the
climate and professionalism of Faculty itself.14 Put less delicately, given the
undisclosed Complaint against faculty, it was the legal equivalent of the fox being
placed in charge of the henhouse.
The Task Force again with deferential words noted that it was troubled about the
timing of the Assistant Deans intervention15 and the practical effect it had of
undermining the formal complaint process initially launched by Student A and
subsequently taken up by the four professors, and always supported by Ryan. Through
the questionable legal gymnastics of declaring a complaint filed on December 21 st as
really not being filed until December 23rd, Dal Administration was able to declare that
the Assistant Deans unwritten and unannounced decision of December 22nd to
suspend (made in his own mind and without written notice to the Dean, as mandated by
the Policy & Procedure Manual), magically trumped the full investigation, due process
and procedural fairness that Ryan kept arguing he was entitled to receive. At page 57:
This was troubling because the initial complaints included not only the
Facebook posts, but also the dentistry climate and professionalism. We
believe that this created a reasonable perception that Dentistry might
have had an interest in the outcome of the complaints. In these
circumstances, we also think it was reasonable to think that the ASCC, a
body internal to Dentistry, was not an impartial decision maker.

Safety of Female Students and Patients

The only legal justification for Ryans indefinite suspension would have been if there
were a serious threat to female student safety or patient safety within the clinic. The

Dr. Richard Florizone

June 30, 2015
Page 10
Task Force found that there was no evidence to suggest that Ryan Millets passive
membership in the Facebook Group constituted a safety risk to his classmates or to his
patients. The Task Force pointedly notes that suspension should have followed
investigation, not trumped investigation. Only on reading the Task Force Report have
we learned, for the first time, that Dal Administration had already conducted a
thorough and secretive five person review of the issue of safety. That Committee
concluded there was no safety risk. The four female complainants themselves told
Dalhousie that they did not feel threatened or at risk. Eventually an undisclosed and
withheld collective letter from female classmates to the ASCC, arguing there was no
threat to safety, added to the evidence that undermined the basis for Ryans
suspension. Through all of this, yourself, the ASCC and the Assistant Dean Clinic
remained implacable and immoveable.
You, Mr. President, publicly stated that safety of the students was the justification for
suspension from classroom. What evidence were you relying upon, given that your
secretive Committee found the very opposite? Was it paternalism, or pandering to
public pressure? As the Task Force notes, surely Ryan is entitled to your explanation as
to why you so publicly announced that safety was at risk if Ryan and others attended
regular classes. Not a single classmate ever complained to Ryan in that regard. Had
you inquired, I suspect his classmates would more likely describe him as a puppy dog
than an attack dog. He was known to be kindly and respectful to those around him, not
a safety threat to the clinic workplace.
Your Task Force had this to say in response to these unprecedented legal machinations
that resulted in Ryans suspension:
As the ASCC made clear in its March 6th Decision about Student B (Ryan
Millet), it does not have disciplinary powers, so the suspension of the
students was not justified as a punitive measure. It was only justified as
long as there was an objective basis for concern about safety or
about a students capability to act professionally. That decision was
ASCCs to make about each suspended student individually. Without that
process, the suspensions appeared disciplinary and arbitrary.16
From the beginning, we tried to convince you and the Chair of the Senate to take control
of this power grab by the Faculty of Dentistry. Ryan was being indefinitely suspended
under the camouflage of what was labelled as academic professionalism, not a
disciplinary suspension. From the beginning, we argued that was stuff and nonsense.
The Task Force more politely called it disciplinary and arbitrary. Whatever label is
selected, Ryans very public and humiliating suspension was as disciplinary and
punitive as any disciplinary act Dalhousie has taken against any of its students in
recent years, to the point of the President making regular nationally circulated
pronouncements on what otherwise should have been a private disciplinary or
academic matter.

Dr. Richard Florizone

June 30, 2015
Page 11
As you well know, none of the steps for adjudicating normal academic professionalism
were followed, as specified in the Academic Policy Manual . While our pleas for fairness
fell on deaf ears, the Task Force knew that a rose by any other name is still a rose:
In our view, the ASCC process raises serious questions about
fairness. These include questions about whether the Clinic Assistant
Dean and the ASCC have the authority to act as they did, whether
requirements such as notice and the opportunity to be heard were
satisfied, and whether there was a reasonable perception of a conflict
of interest. Although it is not a disciplinary body, the ASCC
effectively took on that role in this case, and was widely understood
to be the body that decided on sanctions for the identified Facebook

The ASCCs proper focus was professionalism and a concern that the
identified Facebook posters would not meet professional standards was
the only basis for continuing these suspensions. This was no punishment
for what the students had already done. In our opinion, the suspensions
were only justified for as long as there was a risk that the students
would continue to act unprofessionally.17
Mr. President, your Task Force Report advises you that the circumstances should have
aroused concern that this was not an incident between a few individuals, but potentially
a much more complex situation that might require the University to assume
responsibility. Despite the fact you met personally with Student A and her parents, the
Task Force notes that there is no indication anyone in Administration seriously
considered the possibility of the University assuming carriage of the matter from the
Faculty of Dentistry.18 The Report is critical of Administrations failure to support Student
A and others, including Ryan Millet, who wanted a formal process and the appointment
of an investigator.19

Conflict of Interest of ASCC

The ASCC was linked inseparably to the RJ process, even for Ryan Millet who refused
to participate.
When the RJ Report was filed several weeks ago, we learned for the first time that
the complaints of the other four female dental students under the Sexual
Harassment Policy were not restricted to Ryan and his 12 classmates. Very much
to our surprise, the RJ Report informed us that those complaints also complained
against the Faculty of Dentistry itself, as the originating source of a climate and

Dr. Richard Florizone

June 30, 2015
Page 12
culture of sexism, misogyny and homophobia. We have reviewed all of your media
releases and nowhere do we find you, as President, disclosed to the public or Ryan or
the other 12 students that the RJ process was mandated to include Faculty misconduct
as well as student misconduct.
This was an extraordinary revelation to us, that obviously has troubled the
Backhouse Task Force as much as it has Ryan Millet and his counsel. The Task
Force pointedly noted:
, the practical effect of the Clinic Assistant Deans decision was to
preclude an external formal process in favour of an internal confidential
process. This was troubling because the initial complaints included not
only the Facebook posts, but also Dentistry climate and professionalism.
We believe that this created a reasonable perception that Dentistry
might have had an interest in the outcome of the complaints. In these
circumstances, we also think it was reasonable to think that the
ASCC, a body internal to Dentistry, was not an impartial decision
Mr. President, that indictment by your own Task Force is deeply troubling. This conflict
of interest was something you and others within senior Administration were aware of,
yet you stood back and allowed Ryan to be judged by those who were themselves
being judged for the very same alleged misconduct.
The Task Forces indictment is entirely consistent with our earlier objections about the
lack of impartiality of Faculty to sit in judgment of Ryans sexism, misogyny and
homophobia, when in fact Ryan had repeatedly and unsuccessfully attempted to
address such issues with Faculty in the past. Unbeknownst to Ryan, he was trying to
convince them why he was not guilty of those unprofessional attitudes, while some of
those very same Faculty members were under scrutiny and investigation for creating a
climate and culture that promoted and condoned such attitudes. At no time was this
extraordinarily material fact disclosed to Ryan or his counsel, either through your
public pronouncements or through an ASCC process that promised us full
With your appointment of the Task Force and its spotlighted attention on attitudes within
the Faculty of Dentistry, you obviously were aware of this conflict. Given that context,
Ryan is entitled to know why his pleas of conflict and partiality of February 11 th were left
unanswered and unaddressed.
We are stating the obvious when we note the tempting convenience of scapegoating my
client and the other 12 students as the public face of sexism, misogyny and
homophobia. The fox in charge of the chicken coop does not do justice to this legal
affrontery. Even persons untrained in the law innately know that one should not secretly
sit in judgment of another, when accused of the very same misconduct, particularly

Dr. Richard Florizone

June 30, 2015
Page 13
when the temptation of conviction might readily distract the public call for more systemic
The Task Force had more to say:
Some Senators, the authors of the Dalhousie Faculty Complaint, and
Student B (Ryan Millet), among others, said that the ASCC was in a
conflict of interest because some people on the ASCC were the subject of
some of the Facebook posts. The fact that neither the University nor
Dentistry responded to this concern increased public perception that
the process was unfair. It was described as a coverup or contain
and control technique that showed that the Universitys only
concern was its reputation.
Concerns about conflict of interest should always be taken seriously.
If not addressed promptly and directly, they can undermine an otherwise
fair process. Fairness principles apply not only to actual conflict or bias,
but they require there be no reasonable perception of bias or conflict of
interest. This requirement grows more stringent where the decision
has greater potential for adverse impact on the individual. Here, two
factors provided a reasonable basis for the perception that Dentistry
might be biased or in a conflict of interest. First, the complaint pursued
through RJ under the Policy included allegations about the culture and
professionalism inside Dentistry, as well as Facebook posts, so
consequences of the ASCC proceedings were very severe up to
academic dismissal in the case of any suspended student who had
not participated in RJ ( Ryan Millet was the only such student)
which heighted the importance of ensuring that there was no
perceived conflict of interest.
Concerns about the ASCCs impartiality were raised in other
forums soon after it issued its initial decision. Fairness could have
been enhanced by acknowledging and openly addressing those concerns.
That would mean either explaining why the perception of bias was not
well-founded or responding to the concerns. For example, review of the
suspensions could have been moved outside of Dentistry to the Senate
Academic Appeals Committee, which hears appeals on professionalism
matters that originate within Dentistry.
As you well know, our submissions on this conflict of interest and impartiality went
unaddressed by both you and by the ASCC. This was not an issue of an esoteric legal
argument that could only be understood by professionally trained lawyers. It was an
issue fundamental to the fair process that you repeatedly promised my client and

Dr. Richard Florizone

June 30, 2015
Page 14
others, through your many public pronouncements. The Task Force critically observed
your deafening silence on this issue in its following comments:
There was another opportunity to address the perception of conflict
of interest when Student B (Ryan Millet) raised the issue of the
ASCCs impartiality, along with a number of other procedural
fairness concerns, at the hearing into his suspension and in his
Submissions. In its Decision of March 6th, the ASCC did not address
this issue.
The failure to address the significant conflict of interest concern
damages public perception of the institutions commitment to
Mr. President, those carefully chosen words of your Task Force are addressable to you.
You were provided our Submissions, in advance of their filing with the ASCC, in the
hope you would intervene and re-start the process on a proper legal footing. You were
aware the Complaints being informally investigated by RJ were not restricted to Ryan
and his classmates, but included climate and culture within Dentistry, yet you failed to
inform us or intervene.
When the Vice-Provost decided to pursue the Complaint under her jurisdiction, the Task
Force noted that she implicitly did so in recognition that a body outside Dentistry was
the appropriate avenue to investigate the matter.22 The Task Force commented:
The question of who is the appropriate body in charge of a process is
always important. Where there is any possibility that a complaint may
implicate or involve the Faculty itself, it is essential that both the
process and any decisions be independent of that Faculty.
The Task Force was perhaps too gentle and too respectful when it commented that
perceptions of fairness would have been enhanced by using a process and a
decision maker outside of Dentistry.23
The Task Force also commented:
In our justice system, complainants are entitled to a formal process
for reviewing the complaints and determining whether they are
substantiated. Informal resolution is always an option, but it takes place
against the background framework of legal rights and obligations, although
formal and informal processes may proceed together. However, an
informal process chosen by some individuals would violate both principles
of fairness and the legal entitlement of others if it precluded them from
pursuing a formal complaint. It is not clear whether that happened here,
but there is cause for concern.24

Dr. Richard Florizone

June 30, 2015
Page 15
The Task Force concluded with the observation that there were very substantial
concerns about the ASCC process.25

Fundamentally Flawed RJ Process

As you may recall, Ryan Millet has always supported the concept of restorative justice,
when used properly. In his case, he did not feel he was guilty of blatant
unprofessionalism and for that reason he refused to participate in a process that
started and finished with an assumption of guilt and accountability.
Based on legal advice received, Ryan Millet understood that a finding of blatant
unprofessionalism and the resulting indefinite suspension could never be erased by a
restorative justice process. As he explained at length before the ASCC, he felt he had
done more than his share of trying to intervene and address issues of sexism and
respectfulness within and amongst students and faculty, long before the Facebook
issue arose. His willingness to stand against the repugnant Facebook entries in
December 2014 was only the last in a succession of earlier interventions by Ryan that
demonstrated a degree of maturity and professionalism that should have been
rewarded, not punished.
Shortly after Ryan sought legal advice, he opted out of the restorative justice process.
Ryan has publicly explained why he did so. Your RJ facilitators have been openly
critical of Ryans withdrawal and the reasons for withdrawal. That criticism has included
overt criticism of Ryans legal counsel in the RJ Report. Both Ryan and the undersigned
found some solace in the fact that we were not alone in the long list of culpable parties
that the RJ Report criticized, some would say in a most unprofessional manner.
That public debate over differing perceptions of Dalhousies RJ process has now been
independently adjudicated by the Backhouse Task Force. The Task Force has landed
solidly on Ryans side of this abuse of process. Task Force comments included:
The RJ process changed over time and that it is especially important to be clear
and consistent about the overarching framework, to provide certainty that the
framework will not change without adequate notice to those affected26;
The RJ process was established without adequate information on its mandate27;
It came as a surprise to many to discover in the RJ Report that the mandate
included the authority to investigate the sexual harassment complaint, to
address the harms it caused and to examine the climate and culture within
the Faculty that may have influenced the offensive nature of the Facebook
group content28;

Dr. Richard Florizone

June 30, 2015
Page 16
It was not clear that the RJ process was capable of conducting the kind of
independent investigation that leads to reliable findings of fact29;
Certain key individuals, including Student A and Ryan Millet, were not
interviewed as part of the RJ investigation30;
Since successful completion of RJ was essential to avoid the possibility of
academic dismissal, the directive from the ASCC that indefinite suspensions
would only be lifted upon successful completion is inconsistent with a
voluntary process31;
The suspended students did not feel that they had enough information when
given 48 hours to elect into or out of RJ, nor were they clear what successful
completion of RJ meant, or who would decide successful completion, or what
more could be required32;
The ASCC decision to make successful completion RJ key to lifting the
suspensions compromised the voluntariness of the RJ process for those
The possibility of dismissal, which only arose from not participating in RJ (i.e.
only applicable to Ryan Millet), put pressure on the suspended students to
choose RJ and do everything the RJ facilitators required of them. In these
circumstances, it could be argued they did not consent freely;
While the informal RJ process can be adaptable to a wide variety of situations, it
must still comply with the principles of informed consent, transparency about the
process, impartiality and certainty34;
Concern about the impartiality of RJ arises from its claim that it conducted an
investigation sufficient to support factual findings about the Facebook group and
the culture and climate in Dentistry. Basic fairness principles apply to
investigations, including the requirement to gather information from available
sources, and evaluate that evidence objectively. There is no indication that the
RJ facilitators interviewed students who did not participate in RJ to gather
information about the Facebook group or Dentistry culture and climate, or that
they sought this information from faculty members, staff, or administrators.
Gathering information from these sources was not central to the RJ function of
bringing participants to a deeper understanding of what happened and equipping
them with the tools to constructively reflect on their behaviour. However, it was
essential to a full and fair investigation35;
The role of RJ facilitators did not lend itself to objectively assessing
informationThe role of RJ facilitators, as we understand it, is not to stand
back from participants and assess their credibility. It is to stand with them

Dr. Richard Florizone

June 30, 2015
Page 17
and help them to gain insight into their motivations and interest. This is
difficult to reconcile with the requirements of an investigation36; and
While we agree that RJ was a useful process that achieved significant
results in this case, we have reservations about how it was established,
some aspects of its process, and its relationship to other processes37.
Mr. President, that is yet another damning indictment. The undue influence or pressure
to sign on to the RJ process was not restricted to the RJ facilitators. Your own Task
Force concluded that your public pronouncements were part of the problem:
The other condition governing the fairness of a voluntary process is the
absence of improper pressure to make a particular choice
Sources of these pressures included the President, who publicly
endorsed RJ as the most appropriate response before students had
decided on this process and the HREHP Office, which some said gave
short shrift to the formal process and advocated for RJ38
Your Task Force did not restrict its critique of RJ to your own involvement, or the
absence of a free and voluntary choice to elect into or out of RJ. More substantively,
the Task Force concluded that the RJ process itself was not a remediation
process in the sense that term is used in professional regulation39. The Task Force
noted that the intertwining of RJ with the ASCC was less than fair to students like Ryan.
The most targeted indictment of this particular RJ process is found within the Task
Forces Recommendation that you order an external review of the way in which RJ was
exercised in this instance40.
Recommendation 13 of this Task Force raises the spectre of what Ryan Millet has
described as the Gulag-style imposition of remedial education, that was forced
upon him by the ASCC as a prerequisite to graduation. Despite his conviction that his
personal values and conduct were not sexist, misogynist or homophobic, Ryan
graciously, if reluctantly, embraced this mandatory re-education, as a necessary
concession to achieve graduation. It was one of those times in life where Ryan
concluded practicality trumped principle. He allowed pretty words to be placed in his
mouth and by written word, to accommodate the new found stridency of the ASCC on
issues of sexism, misogyny and homophobia. His original sincere letter of apology and
contrition, for not intervening and objecting more than he already had, were the true
measure of this man, and his non-discriminatory and inclusive attitudes towards his
fellow human beings.
Implicit in the messaging of your Task Force is the warning that forced contrition, either
through the edict of the ASCC or the more subtle machinations of an involuntary RJ
process, is to be received with skepticism.

Dr. Richard Florizone

June 30, 2015
Page 18
Thankfully, your Task Force scratched deeper than the ASCC. The Task Force has
raised a fundamentally important educational, ethical and disciplinary question:
whether attitudinal and behaviour change in the student body, staff and faculty
can or should be imposed through this type of RJ process41. Recommendation 13
raises the spectre of the old adage about leading a horse to water, especially with
punitive whip in hand. While the RJ Report was laudatory and self-congratulatory in
tone, your Task Force has raised more appropriate questions about the use and abuse
of RJ. From Ryans personal perspective, the rather lengthy list of remediation initiatives
imposed upon him by the ASCC were more Orwellian than educative.
It will be for you and others to reflect on whether this type of imposed re-education is
appropriate for an institution of higher learning.
Interference by Administration
As we set out in some detail in our written Submissions to the ASCC, the Senate is
mandated exclusive control over student conduct. Any body that claims jurisdiction to
regulate student conduct must do so through delegated authority from the Senate.
There is no evidence that the powers relied upon by the Assistant Dean Clinic were
ever authorized or delegated by the Senate. In this instance, we argued at length and
without any response, that neither the Assistant Dean Clinic nor the ASCC had any
legal jurisdiction to be regulating student conduct with respect to private Facebook
That type of jurisdiction has been delegated by the Senate under the well-established
protocols of the Student Code of Conduct, which includes all the checks and balances
one would expect of a disciplinary process. The Task Force has already commented
that the ASCC was disciplinary in everything but name. The pretext of academic
professionalism, as the grounds for punitive and indefinite suspension, was not
convincing to Ryan Millet, nor was it to your Task Force.
As you are aware, matters of student conduct and discipline are generally treated as
confidential in nature. Despite that entitlement to privacy, because of the public furor
that ensued, you took it upon yourself to make the suspension of these 13 students a
very public demonstration of Dalhousies commitment to accountability. You repeatedly
commented that there would be consequences for these actions. Your public
messaging could not help but influence the objectivity and independence of the ASCC
itself and the members of the Faculty of Dentistry.
You further injected yourself into the process by becoming the public advocate for the
private and confidential RJ process that was the antithesis of our clients pleas for
transparency and due process. Had Ryan Millet been provided due process and
procedural fairness by a proper investigation of his conduct and communications, there
can be little doubt that he would have been praised rather than condemned for his
repeated efforts to bring civility and respectfulness into the affairs of the School of

Dr. Richard Florizone

June 30, 2015
Page 19
Dentistry. This refusal to conduct a proper due diligence investigation, as is the legal
right of any other student at Dalhousie, was our first and foremost objection when we
went public on Ryans behalf. The absence of that investigation is what leaves Ryan
Millet unemployed as a dentist today, with a name that is notorious and a taste in his
mouth that is resentful of what once he was proud to call his alma mater.
In that context, we note the remonstrations of the Task Force 42, suggesting that
Administration could have addressed and supported Ryans request for a formal
process and the appointment of an investigator. Instead:
The University only proceeded by initiating the RJ process. On December
17th, the President announced that a number of women targeted in the
Facebook posts had chosen RJ, and explained what that was. He noted
that others could pursue formal complaints under the Policy and that
various disciplinary actions were available. He rejected the call for an

We have some concerns with what was decided at this time.

In our view, an investigation was critical, and it was not inconsistent
with the RJ process. An investigation is not the same as a disciplinary
proceeding. The Code and Policy make it clear that an investigation
provides the basis for deciding whether disciplinary proceedings are
Had that critical investigation been conducted, and had you not rejected the call for an
investigation, Ryan Millet is convinced that his many acts of civility and respectfulness,
including the manner in which he disclosed the repugnant Facebook pages to the initial
primary victim, warranted commendation for his professionalism, not disciplinary action
wrapped up in the camouflaged blanket of blatant academic unprofessionalism.
That continuing interference by the Office of the President in nationwide media
statements dealing with the privacy rights of individual students is a matter of deep
disappointment by Ryan Millet. While he endeavors to understand and appreciate the
extraordinary pressures brought upon you by this Dental School Scandal, he remains
unconvinced that reputation management did not underlay some of the long list of
procedural and substantive shortcomings identified by your Task Force.

Based upon the damning indictment you have been provided by your own Task Force,
we request you find a way to expunge Ryans suspension and the disciplinary finding of

Dr. Richard Florizone

June 30, 2015
Page 20
misconduct (a description used by the Task Force itself, if not the ASCC), on the
grounds of an unauthorized and fundamentally flawed process undertaken by the
Faculty of Dentistry. I am confident your lawyers can work wonders in finding the
mechanical ways of putting the genie back in the bottle, if you have the political will to
right the wrongs inflicted on Ryan.
If you find it in your heart to do so, a personal and private note of regret and apology
from you to Ryan might start to heal the rift that your Administration has allowed to
develop between Ryan and his alma mater.
We are asking you to use the powers of your office to help Ryan, not next month or next
year, but immediately. While the Backhouse Task Force did not have the power or
authority to right the specific wrongs that were inflicted on Ryan, you and/or members of
the Senate have it within your means to do so.
Mr. President, your Task Force placed direct accountability for these lost opportunities
directly on your doorstep. The Report lists the missed opportunities very specifically.
Proportionate with that responsibility, Ryan Millet now asks you to accept responsibility,
by doing whatever is possible to remove the stain from his professional reputation that
is the Decision of the ASCC. That, accompanied by a letter from you to licensing
authorities, clearing his professional reputation, will constitute an important first step in
righting the wrongs that have been inflicted upon him, all in the name of the fairness that
you repeatedly promised would be the foundation of the assessment of every students
It is one thing to express generic commitment to 39 Recommendations that are
systemic in nature. Those are laudatory, impersonal and assignable tasks. As important
as they are, those commitments do not address the personal consequences that are the
genesis of many of those Recommendations. Your Task Force was not given the
mandate to recommend remedy to those most harmed. That authority rests with you
and the Senate.
While we are prepared to continue to represent your debt-ridden former student to
provide him the legal accountability to which he is entitled, we instead invite you or your
delegate to reach out and find common ground to address and resolve the manner of
Ryans treatment. Until that reconciliation occurs, there will be no opportunity for the
healing and the collective and constructive pulling together that the circumstances
warrant and the Task Force recommends. Ryan Millet does not seek to pull down
Dalhousie. He is requesting that Dalhousie provide him a lifting hand up.


Dr. Richard Florizone

June 30, 2015
Page 21
Yours truly,

Bruce T. MacIntosh
Bruce T. MacIntosh

Chair of Dalhousie Senate


Direct Line: (902) 753-3303

Z:\Civ_Lit\CIV-LIT\BTM\17725-1\Cor\CT RF 6-30-15.docx

Dr. Richard Florizone

June 30, 2015
Page 22

Page 29
Task Force Report, page 15
Page 29
Page 25
Page 53
Page 56
Page 57
Page 57
Page 56
Page 56
Page 56
Page 56
Page 57
Page 57
Page 56
Page 62
Page 74
Page 72
Page 72
Page 57
Page 63-64
Page 57
Page 58
Page 58
Page 59
Page 59
Page 73


Page 73
Page 73
Page 73
Page 74
Page 60
Page 60
Page 61
Page 62
Page 62
Page 73
Page 60-61
Page 63
Page 67
Page 84
Page 72
Page 72-73