College campuses, of all places, really shouldn’t be settings for spontaneous pro-rape chants, but we apparently live in a world where they are because just a week ago today, students attending a three-day orientation event put on for the University of British Columbia’s Saunder School of Business devolved into mob of sexual assault advocates.
The chant, which has been gaining momentum in Canada’s national media outlets, broke out during Saunder’s FROSH event, a three-day orientation put on for the Saunder School of Business by the Commerce Undergraduate Society. Video was taken of the incident, and at least one student live-tweeted the horrific chant, a little ditty that went like this:
Y-O-U-N-G at UBC, we like 'em young, Y is for your sister, O is for oh so tight, U is for underage, N is for no consent, G is for go to jail.
The UBC’s official student paper, The Ubyssey, spoke to the FROSH co-chair, Jacqueline Chen, who explained that, although the chant is something the event’s organizers would really, really like not to happen (like, at all), the chant has been circulating in the group for a long time:
We had problems a very long time ago with the cheers being public in a sort of way and the dean seeing. We let the groups know: if it happens in the group, it has to stay in the group...
There’s only so much you can do with somebody who wants to publicly state something, but we do get them to remove it [from social media] if we do find it…. That’s a big thing for us.
That’s an honest explanation, at least, but even though Chen makes it clear that she’s not okay with the chant, her guess about the chant’s origins, that “it’s all passed down year after year … from forever, I guess” is fairly chilling.
Even more chilling, perhaps, is the fact that students at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, way the hell on the other side of Canada, were caught on camera chanting the very same thing as their westward peers. While Saint Mary’s is promising disciplinary action (according to the CBC, the Saint Mary’s student president resigned over the backlash), Robert Hensley, dean of the Saunder School of Business, has condemned the cheer in the most emphatic public relations way possible, saying, “This is a deeply, deeply troubling event and one that we take very seriously...and we will take steps to ensure that nothing like this happens at UBC again.”
Fact is, such chants have apparently been happening waaaaay too often. Student leaders like Caroline Wong, president of the UBC’s student society, has taken the chance of the chant’s recent publicity to say that the school should make a stronger effort to rid itself of such a tradition. That effort, though, will have to be rigorous, and it will have to move beyond tough words about abstract disciplinary measures from school administrators.