HALIFAX – A former Saint Mary’s University frosh leader said a complaint she made last year about a chant condoning rape and sexual assault was not dealt with by the school’s students’ association.
Alexandria Bennett, who was a frosh leader at SMU in 2012, said the complaint was made on behalf of another student who was a victim of sexual assault.
“I did approach someone and it went unheard,” she said.
She said she voiced her concerns to an executive of the Saint Mary’s Students’ Association (SMUSA) about the chant being overly sexual in nature.
“It was brushed off as being just for fun and unharming, and no student would ever act upon that,” she said.
On Friday, SMU Communications Manager Steve Proctor said the university never received Bennett’s complaint.
“I have absolutely no evidence it was passed on to administration. We can only respond to things we know about. The first time we heard about the chant we shut it down,” Proctor said.
As for how the complaint would have been brushed aside, the university spokesman suggests it’s a judgment call.
“I can’t speak to what processes anybody else used in making their decisions to move, act and respond to something,” he said.
The chant, which was repeated this year and posted to social media, has fuelled controversy about sexual consent and rape.
Raw video: the SMU chant at the center of the controversy
Bennett says the first year student eventually transferred to another university.
But she’s left shaking her head that a chant that explicit was allowed.
“I couldn’t believe that university students, who are adults … could be making jokes about sexual assault,” said Bennett. “It was a living nightmare.”
The frosh leaders involved in this week’s chant are now required to undergo sensitivity training. But Bennett believes stronger action needs to be taken.
“The fact it’s gone on for four years…we need a good punishment to say this is not going to be tolerated whatsoever at SMU,” she said.
However, SMU says no one is being kicked out or losing their positions over the scandal.
On Thursday, Jared Perry, president of the SMUSA, said the chant’s message slipped past him.
“A lot of our cheers, when we do them, we don’t necessarily look at the message. It’s more about the rhyme and the chant behind it,” Perry said.
Perry said he was aware of the chant and had even sung it before in years past. But he admits the chant was a mistake.
“It’s definitely the biggest mistake I’ve made throughout my university career and throughout my life,” he said.
Raw video: SMUSA president Jared Perry answers questions about the chant
© Shaw Media, 2013