Come Wednesday morning, Ryan Millet hopes to be back in his dental scrubs, poking and scraping his patients’ teeth at the Dalhousie University dentistry clinic.

Millet is one of the 13 men who formed the Class of DDS 2015 Gentlemen, a closed Facebook group in which some of the class’s male students made misogynistic, homophobic, violent and sexualized comments about their classmates.

The 29-year-old admits he was part of the group. But he says that fact alone doesn’t tell the whole story.

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Millet was added to the Facebook group when it was created in the first week or so of classes in August 2011. For him, it was a way to maintain social contact with his classmates. With three young children and a wife, Millet, who describes himself as “a little bit of an outsider” among his classmates, usually chose to spend his spare time with his family rather than with his peers.

“They’re out at the bars and I’m at home changing diapers,” he said during a lengthy interview Sunday.

Most of the thousands of posts on the page were innocuous, he says — comments about dental techniques, jokes about each other’s favourite football teams, links to YouTube videos.

Sometimes the posts were childish or “a little over the top,” like a cartoon drawing of a penis, for example. He says he occasionally asked those who posted disrespectful content to remove the material, and even reported some posts to Facebook for removal.

On Dec. 6, 2014, one of the “gentlemen” posted a poll asking which of two female classmates the men would prefer to “hate f****.” Five or six men responded to the poll, Millet recalls. He was shocked.

“It was a targeted, hateful, sexualized, violent attack. That was what upset a lot of us.”

His classmates were like family, he says.

“You know their favourite flavour of ice cream, you know their favourite place to go on vacation, you know the intimate details of each other’s lives. You consider each other family. You care for each other. And to see something so targeted and violent and hateful against someone that you care about is....”

Millet breaks off as he tries to suppress his emotions.

“How would you feel if someone said something like that about your sister? Because that’s the type of closeness that you have with your fellow classmates.”

One of the women listed in the poll was in the room when many of the Facebook group’s members saw it. She observed their reaction and was curious about what was going on. When Millet showed her the post later that day, she was distraught, he says.

He allowed her to make a screenshot of the poll, and told her he wanted to leave the Facebook group. But she suggested he stay so that he could observe the men’s responses.

Over the next few days, as his female classmate told faculty about the post, Millet tried to help the men understand why the post was wrong. At this point, the men still didn’t know that faculty had been informed about the post. He asked them to apologize — and wanted them to mean it.

“Apologizing because you got caught is a completely different thing than apologizing because you’re sorry.”

On Dec. 12, the female student said the faculty members wanted more information about the Facebook group.

“She said that they asked for further evidence,” Millet says. “So I responded and said, ‘What do you need?’ And she said, ‘Can I have your Facebook login?’ And I said, ‘Here it is.’”

Then, Millet left the group and deleted his entire Facebook account. But, because his account was used to document the posts, his name was on the screenshots. So he is, technically, one of the 13 infamous “gentlemen.”

Since the posts were made public through a media report on Dec. 15, many have accused the Facebook group members of being misogynist, sexist and homophobic.

Millet says he is none of those things.

“No. The answer is no,” he says vehemently. “That’s not me. That’s not what I’m about. And the people that know me would agree.”

He says he never posted, liked or commented on the offensive content, although The Chronicle Herald could not independently verify this.

Long before the Facebook posts were made, Millet says he spoke up when he saw disturbing behaviour at the dentistry school. In his third year, he expressed concern to a female instructor that other students were being disrespectful toward her. In his second year, he met with the assistant dean out of concern for a female classmate who felt she was being harassed by her peers. Millet says he suggested that someone talk to the class about the importance of having professional relationships and about being respectful.

So why didn’t he leave the Facebook group earlier?

Millet answers this question by relating a bit of personal history.

An American from the Midwest, Millet once spent two years on a church mission in Atlanta, working with people who were down and out. One of those people was a methamphetamine addict who was living in a garage. Millet visited him every day for about a month and a half.

That experience, along with his religious upbringing, taught him that people are not dispensable.

“Just because people do things that you disagree with you don’t throw them out of your life,” he says. “Likewise, these were my close classmates. Even though they said things that were inappropriate, things that I didn’t agree with, (that) didn’t mean that I was going to sever my connection with them.”

When the Facebook group’s activity became public, reaction was swift and harsh.

Almost 50,000 people have signed an online petition asking for the expulsion of the 13 men. Hundreds have attended protests on campus decrying misogyny. The heads of licensing bodies in other provinces have asked for the names of the men to ensure they can be thoroughly investigated. The university postponed the class’s exams, suspended the men from clinical practice, separated them from the rest of their peers during class time and launched a restorative justice process.

Millet is the only one of the 13 men who chose not to participate in the restorative justice process. He says he felt the university tried to pressure him into joining, and says administration gave him the impression that his classmates were all on board — something that was later disputed by at least four of the female students.

But he was worried that participating in the process would somehow be an admission of guilt that he was not prepared to make. He was also concerned that he wouldn’t have an opportunity to fully explain his role in the group.

Instead, Millet hired a lawyer to help him navigate the appeal process. He has appealed his suspension to the academic standards committee, the dentistry school’s disciplinary body.

On Tuesday, he will share his side of the story at a disciplinary hearing. He says he asked the committee to make his hearing public, but his request was rejected.

Tuesday will be the first time Dalhousie will have given him the opportunity to tell his story, he says.

Millet’s lawyer, Bruce MacIntosh, believes Dalhousie made a mistake by failing to investigate the group and speak with its participants before meting out suspensions.

“There has been no investigation or opportunity for Ryan to explain why he was in that Facebook group, what he did. None. There was a rush to judgment that, quite frankly, smelled a little bit more like a rush to the gallows. And it’s really disturbing legally.”

MacIntosh says he will continue to fight until Millet is exonerated.

“Clear the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. This will go as far as it has to go until his reputation is clear.”

If the committee agrees to lift his suspension, Millet hopes to return to his clinical practice and attend classes with his peers once again. If it doesn’t, he’s not sure what will happen.

Asked about his career prospects, Millet is blunt: “Not great.”

Regardless of the outcome, he says he does not regret being “the leak” who helped spark a national discussion about rape culture and misogyny — a word he said he had to Google when he heard it.

“There is a silver lining and that’s that people are talking about this type of thing all across the country. And without that, I don’t know if people would even know what misogyny is.”

“It’s been terrible,” he said of the personal consequences of his membership in the group. “It’s been an emotional roller-coaster. It’s been a legal roller-coaster. But I have a hard time regretting doing what I think is the right thing — that is, trying to make this right.”