College dorms are typical breeding grounds for harmless pranks; but at a college in Spain, things have taken a dark, misogynistic turn. Earlier this week, at the Colegio Mayor Elías Ahúja—an all-male college that’s part of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid—more than 100 of the college’s students staged an annual mass catcalling event directed at those living in the all-women’s Colegio Mayor Santa Mónica dorm across the way. And because Spain outlawed catcalling in an attempt to protect women’s sexual rights this past May, these boys are facing even bigger repercussions.
In a Twitter video documenting the incident, a few individuals can be seen gathered around one lit window yelling, “Whores, come out of your burrows like rabbits. You’re fucking nymphomaniacs! I promise you’ll all fuck in the bullfight! Go Ahúja!” Then, in swift coordination, the rest of the windows begin to light up one by one, with crowds of boys jeering in each one. Amidst the shouting, some shrieks can be heard in the background.
Getting catcalled by one person is terrifying enough—imagine having a building’s worth of guys verbally harassing you across the street from where you live.
Unfortunately, the chant is allegedly part of a “ritual of machismo” that takes place at the beginning of each academic year, according to a report from El Público, a Spanish news outlet. TikToks from 2021 show how the “song” is part of the hazing process for newcomers, a mode of indoctrination. The university did not respond to the identical incident from last year.
But this year, Elías Ahúja’s administration released an Instagram statement on the matter. In it, the university calls the action “unacceptable,” stating that some colleagues even consider what was said, “incomprehensible and inadmissible in society.” At least one student—the so-called “ring leader” of the chant—has already been expelled for the incident, and the remaining students will be required to take “courses for awareness in gender equality.” The school’s annual bullfight (capea), which was referenced in the chant, has also been suspended.
“It is an obvious sign that sex education is needed and that institutions must stop legitimizing sexist discourses that deny violence and equality for women,” Irene Montero, Spain’s Minister of Equality, told the media.
The Spanish government, which has made legislative strides to protect women over the past few years, has also spoken out to condemn the young men’s actions. According to Vice, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told reporters that politicians and media outlets “need to give a united and common message of rejection of these machista behaviors which are unexplainable, unjustifiable, and absolutely repugnant. And that we don’t give any excuse for these behaviors, they don’t reflect the majority of Spanish society.” In March of 2020, the government passed a “yes means yes” consent law following a particularly violent gang rape and a subsequent years-long campaign.
Universities, in the U.S. and throughout the world, have long battled the unrelenting ubiquity of rape culture on their campuses, much of which goes unchecked. And change can only come from within colleges themselves. We’ll be interested to see what happens next year.