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Manitoba med student loses appeal after suspension for pro-gun rights, pro-life Facebook posts

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A medical student was suspended for Facebook posts expressing his his beliefs about aspects such as gun rights and abortion. Rafael Zaki, a student of the University of Manitoba’s College of Medicine, was suspended after anonymous complaints against Zaki for the posts he made on Facebook back in 2019.

15 anonymous complaints were made by various students who said that they felt “unsafe” based on the opinions expressed by Zaki on his personal Facebook page. These complaints triggered an investigation, which led to remediation. The associate dean Dr. Ira Ripstein ended up making Zaki write about five apologies each to both students and faculty for holding opinions that do not please everybody.

Zaki even ended up pulling down the posts due to the backlash he received. What’s more, Dr. Ripstein expressed that Zaki’s apologies weren’t remorseful enough as he did not promise to change his beliefs, The Post Millennial reports. Soon after, he was expelled from the medical college on grounds of “Student Non-Academic Misconduct and Concerning Behavior Procedure.”

The decision was however appealed by Zaki as the policy on “Student Non-Academic Procedure” prevents the university from regulating social media activity of students, except when the “matters regarding the University are a significant focus of the communication.” But it is worth noting that the beliefs Zaki expressed online are not related to the university or discussing it at all.

The appeal was shot down by the University Discipline Committee, as he had apparently committed Non-Academic Misconduct. His statements, according to the university, were “misogynistic and hostile to women” and had a “negative impact on the learning and work environment.”

Moreover, a “change in the Appellant’s behavior was essential in order to meet the professionalism standards set by the UGM policies.” Simply put, the med school wants Zaki to change his beliefs if he wants to continue his education. Zaki then went on to file a Notice of Application for Judicial Review at the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench on a motion for an injunction to permit him to continue his studies until the judicial review application is finalized in his case.

The court however denied the motion as well. What we have is a med student whose career is jeopardized because of the opinions which he expressed online. To this date, the identities of people who have complained against Zaki still remain anonymous.

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