After hearing the chant used by the students of the Sauder School of Business at the UBC FROSH week, my first reaction was, naturally, of disgust and horror. However, I decided to look into the matter and see why something like this would happen in the first place.
Let me just start by saying that many online articles reported the fact that this chant has been used by students throughout the past 20 years. Seriously, UBC? It speaks volumes about the first impressions that are being given to students that something as atrocious as this chant has been going on for such a long time, propagating rape culture and promoting the worst sort of misogyny.
It may be a chant today, but it could be something as serious as sexual assault tomorrow.
It takes a specific kind of a mindset and a certain kind of an environment to give birth to something as hateful as this. I took the liberty of going through many online comments and several commenters said they couldn’t be bothered about something as “small” as this. Hey, it was just the “energy” there. It was just a bunch of students saying something silly at night — why take it seriously?
I’ll tell you why. It may be a chant today, but it could be something as serious as a sexual assault tomorrow that you’ll be asking me to just “get over.” We need to put a stop to this poisonous way of thinking before it results in real world consequences. “Wild” and “out of control” students need to realize that they can be held accountable for their behaviour. This kind of speech is intolerable in a healthy and developing environment.
According to the Vancouver Sun, Lucia Lorenzi, a PhD student at UBC, was immensely upset about the lyrics of the chants. As someone who had gone through the painful and unimaginable experience of being sexually assaulted in her teenage years, what made her even angrier was the fact that the students who used this chant were instructed to keep it a secret. This kind of behaviour indicates that the students and the leaders both were aware of the fact that this kind of behaviour was wrong and could hurt someone, yet they chose to go ahead with it regardless.
The fact that there are people who have to beg others to take this matter seriously saddens me to the core. Rape is a terrible thing. The fact that there could be students out there on that campus who had gone through this kind of an experience scares me, because it is hard to imagine what they have gone through. Yes, you could say that this is about your freedom of speech, but it is a very dangerous statement that threatens “young girls” on campus — something not to be taken lightly.
Robert Helsley, the Dean of the Sauder School of Business released a much-awaited statement condemning the actions of the individuals involved, stating, “What is reported to have happened at FROSH this year is deeply upsetting and is completely inconsistent with the values of the school and UBC.” Also, two student leaders are said to have resigned after the offensive chant was shouted by the students.
Kudos to The Ubyssey (UBC’s student newspaper) for bringing light to this story and to the students who signed the petition against this chant. However, there were some who had the audacity to defend their school despite the offensive nature of the FROSH chant. Humanity has no bounds, and neither does compassion, which is why it doesn’t matter what school we go to, as long as we hold on to simple, basic human values.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time such behaviour from students has been revealed to the public. Yale University’s Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity several years ago chanted the pro-rape slogan, “No means yes! Yes means anal!” on campus and were banned from carrying out any activities on campus for the next five years. Something similar and equally disturbing happened at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, where students at FROSH came up with a chant that endorsed forced sexual encounters.
Jared Perry, President of the Saint Mary’s University Students’ Association, told CBC News, “These are great leaders. This was simply a moment with a lack of judgment.” Mr. Perry, firstly, I do not think I will ever be able to refer to someone like that as a leader. Yes, I agree that everyone makes mistakes, but it takes a special kind of cruelty and stupidity to say words like “no consent” or “underage” and not realize the kind of impact your words may have.
– Jared Perry, President of the Saint Mary’s University of Student’s Association
There’s a reason why stuff like this keeps happening again and again, and we need to look into it. Okay, so you might not be in favour of stronger punishments, but there are so many other options on the table that can be explored.
For example, all these FROSH events can be monitored so that something as foolish and embarrassing as this doesn’t happen, something that could give the entire university a bad name. Rape sensitivity training is another solution, where students could be taught about the awful nature of rape culture and the horrible things that it promotes. There are solutions; we just need students who are willing to take this problem seriously enough to find the best ones.