Rape is probably not the first word that comes to mind when you think of post-secondary education. Yet in the span of less than a week, two Canadian universities on opposite sides of the country have come under fire for students spouting pro-rape chants during frosh week celebrations.
On September 4, St. Mary’s University in Halifax was the subject of public outcry (you can’t receive an outcry) when a video was posted online showing students enthusiastically participating in a song that used “young” as an acronym condoning underage, non-consensual sex. The video depicts both male and female students singing,
“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.”
The video sparked national outrage and led to the speedy resignation of St. Mary’s student association president Jared Perry.
This incident might have passed for an anomaly, but two days later a nearly identical incident occurred during UBC’s own frosh week activities. At one of the frosh events, sponsored by the UBC Sauder School of Business, a chant very similar to the one used in the St. Mary’s scandal was caught being sung by first-year UBC students.
As in the case of St. Mary’s, this scandal has led to the resignation of the student leaders involved in planning the event.
The reaction at BCIT has been one of incredulity. “I was actually really surprised when I read that UBC [students] were participating in a rape chant, especially since people who go to UBC are supposed to be more mature,” first-year BCIT television student, Katarina Jorquera told The Link.
BCIT Advocate Coordinator, Robyn Lougheed, couldn’t believe it either when she heard the news. “I was shocked,” she said.
It raises the question, could something like this occur at BCIT?
BCIT’s frosh events are currently underway as part of a two-week orientation program. BCIT Marketing Communications Manager Dan Close told The Link that BCIT’s orientation program is organized by students and BCIT Student Association staff who are trained prior to orientation week.
“We have pretty good accountability in terms of what we do and how we train people. [There is] good connectivity to people during orientation. We work very closely with [them].” That being said, he also admitted that there is never a 100 per cent guarantee that every student will behave appropriately.
But as from a student advocacy perspective, Robyn Lougheed says that what matters is that students act on this behaviour: “The most important thing is that they go to someone right away—an instructor, a staff member, [or] me at the advocacy office. It’s important to nip this kind of thing in the bud right away because every student has the right to a safe educational environment.”