It stirs some very bad recollections of the ongoing tragedy of violence against Aboriginal women in Canada and the suicide of Nova Scotia teenager Rehtaeh Parsons in April of this year. This past week has seen revelations of sexist, misogynyst conduct by organizers of ‘frosh week’ events at two universities on opposite sides of Canada–St. Mary’s University in Halifax and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
Enclosed are two sets of news articles from each university reporting on the outrage that has accompanied the revelations.
Report one: Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Four items:
1. SMU rape chant a mistake in ‘heat of the moment’
By Frances Willick, Education Reporter, Halifax Chronicle Herald, Sept 5, 2013
The president of the Saint Mary’s University Students’ Association says a frosh week chant touting rape was “a mistake” that happened “in the heat of the moment.”
“It’s definitely the biggest mistake I’ve made throughout my university career, probably in my life,” Jared Perry, flanked by dozens of frosh leaders, told reporters at a news conference in the campus bar Thursday [Sept 5].
He said the 80 or so leaders weren’t thinking about the meaning of the words when they led 300 to 400 first-year students in the cheer at an orientation week event Monday. “In the heat of the moment, during orientation week, we weren’t necessarily thinking of that,” Perry said. “We don’t necessarily look at the message. It’s more about the rhyme and the chant behind it.”
The students association has come under fire since a video shot at the event, Turfburn, surfaced on the social media site Instagram. The video shows a group of students — both men and women — spelling out the word “young” by shouting, “Y is for your sister, O is for oh so tight, U is for underage, N is for no consent, G is for grab that ass, SMU boys we like them young.”
Perry apologized and said the association will conduct an investigation to help ensure that something like this never happens again. He has stepped down from his post as chairman of Students NS, an association of Nova Scotia student unions.
Despite calls from parents and alumni for Perry to resign from the Saint Mary’s association, he said he will remain in place so he can work toward positive change on campus.* He said the chant is one of several passed from one generation of frosh leaders to another since at least 2009, when he was in his first year. Perry said other traditional chants simply promote Saint Mary’s or focus on the rivalry with Dalhousie or on Acadia’s football team.
He admitted he was at Turfburn on Monday and sang the cheer along with everyone else. “But I never would again,” he said.
The student who posted the video declined to comment Thursday, saying she’d been inundated with media requests for interviews.
Since news of the video broke on Wednesday, several organizations have spoken out against the chanting. Irene Smith, executive director of the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre in Halifax, said the message of the chant reinforces a rape culture that normalizes sexual assault.
The Canadian Federation of Students said the first couple of weeks of university are critical in promoting safe and consensual sex. The federation noted that Saint Mary’s has not participated in a No Means No campaign that the group co-ordinates.
University president Colin Dodds announced Thursday he will form a presidential council to review best practices to prevent sexual harassment and assault. “My colleagues and I were shocked by this incident and are deeply sorry that our students, and now the community at large, were exposed to disturbing sexually charged material,” he said in a news release. “I accept that I and the university administration have a role to oversee and guide student leaders. We failed in that responsibility.”
Orientation leaders heard a presentation from the school’s nurse about sexual assault, and a community police officer also addressed the issue with them before frosh week.
The university is requiring frosh leaders and the executive of the students association to attend “sensitivity training” and go to a conference about sexual consent next week at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish. Perry told reporters on Thursday that the executive was already planning to attend the conference.
Just days before Turfburn, StudentsNS announced that several student unions, including the one at Saint Mary’s, were to participate in a review of their policies on sexual assault and alcohol and take part in an awareness campaign about sexual assault.
“We’re very excited to pursue these important initiatives to improve our practices and protect our students,” Perry said in an Aug. 28 news release about the $46,000 project. “Together, students and the province are working to turn the tide on sexual assault and alcohol abuse among students.”
On campus Thursday, students had mixed reactions to the controversy. Second-year engineering student Bill Dimitropoulos said the chant was obviously a joke and the fallout has been an overreaction. “It didn’t really provoke me to want to rape women,” he said. “It’s meant to have some fun and get people laughing and stuff. It’s not meant to promote rape or anything.”
Brandon Close, a first-year student from Cole Harbour, said he was at Turfburn when the chant was sung. “I just stood there. I was too busy laughing at how stupid it was,” he said. “It is a bit insensitive with what’s going on in Cole Harbour with Rehtaeh Parsons, but in the same breath, it is in no way, shape or form meant to hurt anybody.”
Close believes most students weren’t even paying attention to the words. “The whole thing is very high-energy. I really think anyone just listening to it could have been like, ‘Yay! Woo!’ Honestly, I think all the froshes, other than maybe the odd one or two, weren’t even really listening to the lyrics.”
Close said he doesn’t think the chant would actually change students’ thoughts about rape. “They’re not going to be swayed into thinking rape is OK by a stupid little cheer,” he said.
But Olivia O’Shea, a third-year student from Halifax, said expulsion should be on the table for those who allowed the chant to be included. “I’m just disgusted by it, really. We all know better than this, and the worst part is, the whole point of going to your frosh week is to make good relationships and a healthy start to the year … so that you have a good experience, not that some girl’s going to end up raped in a room one night after a bad party.”
O’Shea doesn’t buy the explanation that it was “just a joke.”
“There’s really crude humour and vulgar humour, but you don’t use that as a foundation,” she said. “This is a lot of people’s first year here and their first time away from home. You don’t want to send them away with that (message), even if it is a joke.”
* Jared Perry resigned the following day.–RA
2. Saint Mary’s University takes action in response to frosh rape-themed cheer
By Jane Taber, The Globe and Mail, Sept. 06 2013
Saint Mary’s University is calling on an expert in bullying to lead a new task force on preventing sexual violence, following a national controversy over a rape-themed cheer at a frosh week event.
Wayne MacKay, the former chair of a provincial task force on bullying, was appointed by the school after a video surfaced of a chant during frosh week activities at the Halifax university.
“As I watched events unfold at Saint Mary’s University over the last week, I saw that there is clearly more work to be done along the road I have already been travelling in relation to human rights,” Mr. MacKay said in a statement released by Saint Mary’s Friday morning.
Mr. MacKay is a professor at Dalhousie’s Schulich School of Law. He was also called upon frequently to comment on the death of Nova Scotia teenager Rehtaeh Parsons. The provincial government has been focusing on raising awareness around sex and bullying following the death of Ms. Parsons, who attempted suicide after she was allegedly sexually assaulted by several young men at a party in 2011. The 17-year-old had been the victim of bullying and cyberbullying after the incident, according to her family.
Mr. MacKay and his team will make recommendations to “foster a cultural change that prevents sexual violence, inspires respectful behaviour and a safe learning environment with the Saint Mary’s community,” according to the statement.
The questionable cheer recorded at Saint Mary’s is based on the word YOUNG – “Y is for your sister … U is for underage, N is for no consent … St. Mary’s boys we like them young.” The chant was led by student orientation leaders at the campus in Halifax.
University president Colin Dodds said he was shocked by the video and issued an apology on behalf of the school. “I accept that I and the university administration have a role to oversee and guide student leaders. We failed in that responsibility,” he said in a statement.
3. PRESS RELEASE: SMU Frosh Week Chant Validates and Perpetuates Rape Culture
Staff at Avalon Sexual Assault Centre were shocked when they saw the video of Saint Mary’s University frosh leaders chanting about sexual assault.
“The message of that chant reinforces rape culture in our society,” says Irene Smith, Executive Director of Avalon Sexual Assault Centre. “Rape culture is perpetuated through television, music, advertising and evidently this chant during frosh week activities at Saint Mary’s University.”
Smith says that rape culture normalizes sexual assault and desensitizes both men and women to the issue of sexualized violence. “The fact that 80 frosh leaders, young men and women, were enthusiastically saying those words on a football field signals that none of them questioned prior to the activity the affect and message those words have.”
In the months following the news of Rehtaeh Parsons’ death, Nova Scotians have been increasingly engaged in discussing sexualized violence. More recently, particularly with the provincial government’s awareness campaign, the issue of consent has been a key priority. It is discouraging to see that a group of the very individuals who were the target audience for that messaging are still not getting the point.
Avalon Sexual Assault Centre has received calls from victims of sexualized violence who have been triggered by the video of the chant. We sincerely hope that the sensitivity training will help the frosh leaders and Student Association Executives become more aware of the problems with rape culture and the effects their words and actions can have on victims, their families and the community. In responding to this situation, they have the opportunity to be part of positive change.
About Avalon Sexual Assault Centre
The Avalon Sexual Assault Centre is a feminist organization working to eliminate sexual assault/abuse, and to change the current socio-political culture that fosters sexism, social injustice and other forms of oppression.
Bridget Ebsary, Communications Officer, Avalon Sexual Assault Centre
t: (902) 422-4240 e: [email protected]
4. Saint Mary’s president fights the echoes of a sexist chant
By Jane Taber, The Globe and Mail, Sept 9, 2013
The stands are full at Saint Mary’s Huskies Stadium for the seasonopening game against the Acadia Axemen – and Colin Dodds is hoping for a win, anything to mitigate the most horrible week of his academic career and that of his university. Dr. Dodds is president of Saint Mary’s, the small university in Halifax with a big international reputation, with nearly 30 per cent of its 6,400 full-time students coming from outside of Canada. But now the university is struggling against a reputation that it has a culture of violence against women, in the wake of a video showing student politicians leading a chant about underage, non-consensual sex, during an orientation week event.
The chant’s phrasing, based on the word YOUNG, reads in part “Y is for your sister … U is for underage, Nis for no consent … St. Mary’s boys we like them young.” The video of the incident, posted on Instagram, sparked a national controversy, a debate that is gaining intensity with revelations of a similar chant being performed by students at the University of British Columbia. On the Saint Mary’s campus, the incident has prompted an official investigation and task force, and provoked soul searching about why no one thought to put a stop to the chant.
Dr. Dodds says he feels let down and embarrassed by the incident; those sensitivities are evident when he declines to be photographed in the football stands for fear of sending the wrong kind of message. “It’s the worst,” he says about these past few days for the university. “I’ve had some bad incidents before … but this is the worst,” he says.
The Saint Mary’s president says he and his administration were blind-sided by the event, although it’s believed the chant has been used at frosh week since at least 2009.
His first reaction when he heard about it was “disbelief” and then shock. “I have been here for 31 years … what do you think this does to me,” says Dr. Dodds, who has been president since 2000. “I have given this my life, it’s my passion. What do you think I feel? I feel sick to my stomach.”
Dr. Dodds sprang into action just hours after finding out about the incident. He immediately issued a statement taking full responsibility for the event, apologizing “unreservedly.” He called the student leaders to a meeting, and asked them to account for their actions. The next day, student president Jared Perry, who admitted he participated in the chant, and his vice-president, Carrigan Desjardins, who is responsible for the frosh week, resigned.
And he struck a task force, the so-called President’s Council, led by bullying expert and Dalhousie University law professor Wayne MacKay. His group is to report by December with recommendations as to how to “foster a cultural change that prevents sexual violence …”
Two other student organizers, who are not being named, face disciplinary action. An investigation will determine whether they face a fine, suspension or expulsion.
At UBC, university and student officials also expressed their regrets about the performance of the chant, in that case, by business students on a bus during orientation week. An investigation is under way at the university.
Dr. Dodds readily acknowledges that SMU’s brand is severely bruised – the deluge of angry e-mails and calls coming into his office from parents, alumni and others are devastating. Parents, he believes, will now think twice about sending their children, especially daughters, to his university.
Daren Miller, a Calgary businessman, is an irate alumnus. He’s already booked his flight to Halifax so that he can return his two degrees in person – and meet with Dr. Dodds. SMU, says the graduate of the class of 1995, is a “huge foundation in my life.” But it’s “so tainted now I don’t want to be associated with it. … Five years of work vanished in five seconds.”
“I’m a father of two young girls. The thought of ever wanting to send them to Saint Mary’s disgusts me,” he says. “I would never do it now.” Mr. Miller believes that Dr. Dodds should resign.
But the university president is focused on working hard to “get that brand back.”
“You can lose it like that,” he said, snapping his fingers. “But you don’t get it back like that.”
Report two: University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC. Four items:
1. UBC frosh chant about underage girls draws fire
By Tiffany Crawford, Vancouver Sun, September 7, 2013
VANCOUVER – The University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business is facing controversy over a chant that glorifies sexual assault against underage girls.
Students participating in Sauder frosh, a three-day orientation for new students organized by the Commerce Undergraduate Society, were reportedly encouraged to take part in a chant that suggests it’s OK to have non-consensual sex with young girls.
The issue came to light Friday after the Ubyssey, the university’s newspaper, published an article about the chant. In it, there’s an interview with Chelsea Maguddayao, a first year student who admits to singing the “At UBC, we like ‘em young” chant on a bus. She told the paper frosh leaders warned them to keep the chant private.
The concerns come a week after a video online showing students at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax repeating a similar chant sparked national attention and outrage. The chant included the words: “Saint Mary’s boys, we like them young” and “Y is for your sister … U is for underage, N is for no consent.”
The Commerce Undergraduate Society issued a statement Friday, signed by president Enzo Woo, vice-president Gillian Ong and frosh co-chairs Jacqueline Chen and Jonathan Li, saying that have always held a no tolerance stance regarding any activities that are harmful towards other students.
“While we do our best to provide a safe and controlled environment during formal Sauder FROSH sessions, there is admittedly little we can do to completely control what some leaders may expose their students to,” the statement said.
The statement goes on to say that the society will take “all feasible steps going forward” to eradicate unacceptable behaviour.
Woo stated that the responsibility for stopping the chants lies with individual frosh leaders, but they have not said who those leaders were.
On Saturday, Caroline Wong, President of UBC’s Alma Mater Society said, “The AMS is conducting a full investigation into CUS Frosh. The type of language and behavior in question is inappropriate and offensive. We do not tolerate any actions that perpetuate rape culture.”
“The AMS Sexual Assault Support Centre will be providing Anti-Violence Ally Training to all the CUS Executives, Board of Directors, Frosh Leaders and Service Council members. The AMS will look into all Undergraduate Society froshes and we will be working collaboratively with the University in their investigation to create a safer campus community,” added Wong.
She also said that the CUS and the AMS deeply apologize for those who have been affected, asking them to connect with campus services: AMS Sexual Assault Support Centre, AMS Speakeasy (peer support), AMS Ombudsperson, CUS Ombudsperson, UBC Counseling Services and UBC Ombudsperson.
The AMS and the CUS will be releasing a joint statement on Sunday, said Wong.
With files from Almas Meherally
2. It happened on my campus too: The SMU rape chant at UBC
Just two days ago, I published an article detailing my concerns about having heard misogynist lyrics being played loudly on campus during frosh week at UBC. The song, which was played at a booth run by an off-campus nightclub, right near the Student Union Building, described — repetitively — being here “for the bitches and the drinks.” I expressed my frustration at having to be exposed to such misogyny in this environment, especially when we know that sexual assaults (especially those facilitated by drugs and alcohol) and sexual harassment run rampant on so many post-secondary campuses.
Shortly after I posted my article on my blog, national news services began sharing coverage of an egregious frosh-week incident at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, which involved 80 student orientation volunteers leading a chant that promoted underage sex and rape. Every major newspaper and television station in Canada has carried the story, featuring interviews with SMU students, SMU frosh leaders, the SMU president, women’s centre and sexual assault centre staff, and concerned community members.
While there have been a predictable number of individuals who have dismissed the incident as a mere moment of “juvenile ignorance,” or, as former SMU student union president Jared Perry put it, something that just happened “in the heat of the moment,” many have been quick to condemn the behaviour. SMU president Colin Dodds, in an interview with CTV Atlantic, expressed his shock at the situation, even apologizing to the family of Rehtaeh Parsons (the Halifax teenager who took her own life after being sexually assaulted and viciously taunted) for the likely impact it would have on them.
Despite my anger at the situation in Halifax, I also felt somewhat relieved. While my article about hearing misogynist music was referenced in a GlobalBC article about SMU and rape culture on campuses, what happened at SMU wasn’t happening on my campus. I mean, if the worst thing that happened at my campus at frosh week was an off-campus nightclub blasting a song about “bitches and drinks”, rather than student representatives of a university actively cheering about underage sex and sexual assault, then it couldn’t possibly get worse, right? Right?
Late this evening (September 6), my university’s student newspaper, The Ubyssey, published an article revealing that the exact same thing had happened during the Sauder Business School Frosh, the “long-running three-day orientation organized by the Commerce Undergraduate Society (CUS).” Not only was I appalled to know that the same chant apparently had a long history of being used at frosh events here at UBC, but even more appalled to hear the reactions of the FROSH co-chair and other students. Co-chair Jacqueline Chen reported to The Ubyssey that previous complaints had been articulated about the chant, but that its use during frosh week had not been prohibited. Rather, Chen says, “We let the groups know: if it happens during the group, it has to stay in the group.”
Beyond the disgust and shock that I feel towards the fact that this chant is clearly widespread among university campuses (and who knows which other university frosh weeks have also used it), I am quite literally sickened by the attitudes towards this chant. Rather than the seeming-remorse and regret expressed by SMUSA president Jared Perry, UBC students who participated in the chant do not seem particularly concerned with the fact that it was brought to light. Indeed, unlike what we heard at SMU, the UBC students interviewed seem perfectly aware of the troubling and offensive nature of the chant, but opted to keep it under wraps, or argued that it was fine since it was only chanted in less-public areas.
I am going to make it very clear why this is a problem: using secrecy to legitimize violence and sexism is precisely the tactic used by abusers and assailants themselves. Suggesting that things are “okay” so long as they are not brought into the public eye is exactly how domestic abuse continues to be perpetrated and excused. Informing people to “keep a secret” is one of the top tactics used by abusers to silence their victims.
It is reprehensible that the same rhetoric and the same dynamics of power are being used in this context.
It is shocking that at UBC, a place when students will be excused from classes on September 18 to attend events at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission — which focus on the legacy of horrific abuses, including the physical and sexual abuse of Indigenous children in residential schools — that callous and casual attitudes towards sexual violence are being openly flouted.
As a survivor of sexual assaults, including one that occurred on the UBC campus, I am tired of this.
As someone whose research focuses exclusively on language and its importance to cultures of sexual violence, I am tired of this.
As someone who wants a safe campus community, for my colleagues, for my mentors and supervisors, and for my own students, I am tired of this.
I am tired of living in a world where even the youth that we expect will be educated leaders of the future are engaging — and actively encouraging others to engage — in the mockery and dismissal of violence.
UBC’s motto is “Tuum Est,” which translates to “it is up to you.”
It is up to the UBC students who participated in this chant, to take true responsibility for their behaviour, and to understand why it is not even remotely something to joke about.
It is up to UBC, as a institution, to draw a line in the sand about what kind of behaviour will and will not be tolerated on campus.
It is up to UBC, as a community, to come together to stand against sexual violence. We must empower our students to call each other out when they hear or observe statements or actions that support or condone violence, so that this chant does not get simply pushed back underground, to be repeated again outside of the watchful eye of the university. We must offer support to those who may have been re-traumatized by this kind of behaviour.
For nearly four years, I, like many other students, have proudly called UBC my home. It’s time to make it feel safe again.
Lucia Lorenzi is an interdisciplinary artist as well as a 4th-year PhD candidate in the Department of English at The University of British Columbia. Her research examines the aesthetics and politics of silence in narratives of sexual violence. This article originally appeared on Lucia’s blog, The Body Politic. It is reprinted here with permission.
3. ‘N is for no consent!’: Sauder first-years led in offensive chant
“An actual cheer at UBC,” a Sauder School of Business first-year wrote on Twitter. “Y-O-U-N-G at UBC: we like em young, Y is for yourrr sister, O is for ohh so tight, U is for under age, N is for no consent, G is for go to jail.”
Students participating in Sauder FROSH, the long-running three-day orientation organized by the Commerce Undergraduate Society (CUS), were led in the above cheer by orientation leaders chosen by the CUS. A variation of the cheer received national attention earlier this week after students were recorded on video reciting the cheer at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.
Jacqueline Chen, FROSH co-chair, told The Ubyssey these chants have been going on for many years. While the CUS had been chastised in the past for the cheers, Chen said the undergraduate society now works to make sure the chant stays private.
“We had problems a very long time ago with the cheers being public in a sort of way and the dean seeing,” Chen said. “We let the groups know: if it happens in the group, it has to stay in the group.”
Chen added that while it was something organizers would be prefer not happen, she said that the CUS was very concerned with keeping the chant out of the public eye.
“There’s only so much you can do with somebody who wants to publicly state something,” Chen said, “but we do get them to remove it [from social media] if we do find it…. That’s a big thing for us.”
Chen said there are serious consequences for a FROSH leader who is publicly exposed leading the chant. The punishments range from getting blacklisted from future FROSH events to being dealt with by the CUS or the school’s dean.
“As far as I know, this issue doesn’t exist. I’ve never heard anything about this before.”
— Andrew Riley, Sauder spokesperson
But when the cheer doesn’t make it into the public eye, Chen said organizers of FROSH are more passive. “I think it’s all passed down year after year … from forever, I guess” Chen said. “It’s not something we can control, to be honest.”
Chen added that she was not the sole organizer of the FROSH programming, and the event was under the portfolio of CUS VP Engagement Gillian Ong. “Whatever words come out of the leaders’ mouth we cannot directly control,” said Ong.
The undergraduate society released a statement saying the CUS is committed to a safe environment for frosh events.
CUS President Enzo Woo said he was aware the cheers went on and while he did not approve of them, the responsibility for stopping them from taking place fell to the individual FROSH leaders.
“While we can monitor the formal events that happen at FROSH, we can’t always see what happens behind the doors, and therefore it’s up to the FROSH leaders to provide a safe environment,” Woo said.
Chen said the selection process for FROSH leaders was rigorous, and they went through training similar to that of Imagine Day volunteers, including equity training.
“Whatever words come out of the leaders’ mouth we cannot directly control.”
— Gillian Ong, CUS VP engagement
Chelsea Maguddayao, a first-year Commerce student, confirmed the existence of the cheer and the FROSH leaders’ efforts to keep it private. “We sang it on the bus,” she said. “They specifically told us right before we cheered and everything that you can only cheer it on the bus and you can’t go elsewhere and cheer it outside.”
Maguddayao said she wasn’t especially bothered by the cheer while singing it on the bus. “It was just for fun, right? It was only on the bus so I didn’t think of it as a big deal, to be honest,” she said. “It was just kind of like, ‘Let’s have a good time, let’s go all out, it’s frosh weekend.’”
In an interview with The Ubyssey, Chen wondered whether Sauder faculty and deans had failed to intervene because no students had complained. “I’m sure by this point they know things like this happen,” Chen said. “They do know about things like cheers and them sometimes being derogatory.”
Sauder spokesperson Andrew Riley said he was unaware of such a cheer. “As far as I know, this issue doesn’t exist,” Riley said. “I’ve never heard anything about this before.”
Assistant Sauder dean Pam Lim released a brief written statement saying that such a cheer would be “completely inconsistent” with the values of the school and the instruction FROSH organizers receive. “We have no knowledge of any inappropriate behaviour by our students,” the statement read.
Jeffery Wang, a second-year Commerce student who volunteered at FROSH, confirmed that the cheer occurred. “Of course, yeah, that’s done,” Wang said of the cheer. “It was only in the buses. It was only in secluded, more isolated areas.”
Wang said that while he didn’t support the underlying message of the cheer, he felt comfortable singing it. “I’m not saying that underage rape is okay or it should be encouraged, but [the cheer] maybe gets people out of their personal boundaries and bubbles, you know?” Wang said.
According to multiple sources, the cheer has a long history at Sauder — perhaps as long as 10 or 20 years, according to Wang.
One first-year who heard the cheer recalled some students being bothered by it. “A few of them made their feelings known and then it wasn’t brought up,” said first-year Commerce student Alex Dye.
“[The cheer] reinforces [victims’] stigmatization and seems to make them into the problem.”
— Scott Anderson, UBC professor
Anisa Mottahed, manager of the Sexual Assault Service Centre on campus, said FROSH should seek other ways to engage first-years. “I don’t understand why sexualized violence should be pulled into frosh chants,” she said. “We’re really surprised that it’s happening, and saddened.”
UBC professor Scott Anderson, an expert in sexual harassment and assault, said the cheer did more damage than those leading it probably realized. He said for those who have experienced sexual assault or been raped, the cheer trivialized their suffering.
“It reinforces their stigmatization and seems to make them into the problem,” Anderson said. “It makes it seem as though someone who complains that they have been subjected to what the chant suggests is herself not part of the fun, making a big deal out of nothing, and trying to spoil other people’s fun.”
He added that issues of privilege also factor into who leads these chants, and why others feel compelled to sing along. “Those who are in position to lead such chants are usually men [and] are usually in favoured positions in society, and so there’s a reason to want to bond with them and to show that you get the joke and that you are willing to curry favor by being transgressive and willing to hurt other people’s feelings.”
Anderson said that there are two groups of people who commit sexual assault. The first group understands that what they’re doing is wrong, and are purely predatory. In contrast, the second group doesn’t fully understand the damage they do by breaching consent.
Anderson said for that second group, cheers like the Y-O-U-N-G cheer reinforce the idea that society doesn’t take consent or sexual assault and rape seriously. “We have to hope that education and knowledge are an antidote to this,” Anderson said.
–With files from Sarah Bigam
4. Open Letter to UBC Academic Provost David Farrar regarding Sauder rape-chants
By Professor Robert Tarzwell, September 7, 2013 at 12:07 pm
(Sept 7, 9:47 pm: I am pleased to publish, with his permission, the Provost’s reply, found below my letter to him.)
Dear Provost Farrar,
It’s been a distressing and shameful morning learning of the, until this week, quietly tolerated, apparently longstanding tradition of rape chants used during frosh week at the Sauder School of Business. The response from both student and academic leadership within Sauder so far along the lines of, “We didn’t know a thing!” or, “If you do it, keep it quiet.” is deeply unsatisfying.
Imagine what it would be like to be a 1st year student who has suffered a rape to enter Sauder and hear that chant, with the egregious expectation of chanting alongside your fellow students or else risk social ostracism. To whom do you turn with your distress? Do you defy? Do you comply? Do you shut down? Imagine, probably your first time away from home, being surrounded by a culture which has swiftly and suddenly declared your victimization the butt of a joke.
The community which sends us young adults for formation of attitudes, character and skills reposits in us the sacred trust that these young people are coming to a safe place. We challenge their unexamined ideas and ways of thinking, with the goal of developing resilient, critical minds. The implicit contract must always be, “Your ideas will be tested, and your mind will be challenged, but always, always, you will be safe.”
Today, we’ve broken that trust with the community and with our students.
I trust you will take swift, transparent, decisive, publicly accountable action to right this egregious breach in our mission and in our community’s trust.
For the first time in my career, today with shame I sign,
Dr. Robert Tarzwell, MD, FRCPC
Clinical Assistant Professor
Division of Psychiatry
Faculty of Medicine
University of British Columbia
Dear Dr. Tarzwell;
The President and I share your concerns about this reported incident. We are committed to creating a respectful, civil and inclusive environment at UBC for all members of our community. The University regards serious allegations of inappropriate behaviour during orientation activities with grave concern, and will conduct a thorough investigation in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct. I have copied below the university’s statement issued by the Dean of the Sauder School of Business and the Vice-President, Students.
Provost and Vice President Academic
The University of British Columbia
Statement of the University of BC, issued by the Dean of the Sauder School of Business and the Vice-President, Students
It has been reported that a chant endorsing non-consensual sex was recited on one or more buses taking students between events during FROSH orientation activities run by the UBC Commerce Undergraduate Society (CUS).
This is of grave concern to all members of the UBC community. Such behaviour would be completely inconsistent with the values of UBC and the Sauder School of Business and completely inconsistent with the instruction that the Commerce Undergraduate Society receives on appropriate conduct prior to FROSH.
The University is a community of students, faculty, and staff involved in learning, teaching, research, and other activities. In accordance with The UBC Student Code of Conduct all members of this community are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that contributes positively to an environment in which respect, civility, diversity, opportunity, and inclusivity are valued, so as to assure the success of both the individual and the community.
The University takes these reports very seriously. The Sauder School of Business and the Office of the Vice-President, Students will jointly conduct a thorough investigation of these reports. Any disciplinary measures will follow the University’s policy on discipline for non-academic misconduct. The University will also take steps to educate students about the harm caused by such behaviour and ensure that all students led activities meet the University’s standards of appropriate student conduct and are consistent with the values of the institution.
Robert Helsley, Dean, Sauder School of Business
Louise Cowin, Vice President, Students,
The University of British Columbia