ABOVE: Controversy surrounding a chant promoting rape of underage girls at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax spread across the country this week. Now, a similar chant at UBC is causing outrage. Tanya Beja reports.
UPDATE: UBC Sauder School of Business has announced it will no longer sponsor Frosh events sponsored by the Commerce Undergraduate Society.
The University of British Columbia is investigating after Frosh leaders led first-year commerce students in a variation of a cheer condoning the rape of underage girls that sparked national outrage this week.
The offensive chant states, “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 under age, N is for no consent, G is for go to jail,” according to the Twitter account of a Sauder School of Business first-year student.
Students participating in Sauder Frosh, a three-day event meant to welcome the new class, were led in the cheer by orientation leaders.
UBC spokesperson Randy Schmidt said the university learned of the chant Friday and is investigating.
“The wording of it was very concerning and appearing to endorse non-consensual sex and that is very concerning,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt said the chant violates school policy and there could be disciplinary action taken.
“Such behaviour would be completely unacceptable and there will be a complete investigation and steps will be taken,” Schmidt said.
“We take this very seriously and we are working very quickly to take the steps we need to convey to the community that this is completely inconsistent with the values we hold as a university.”
The Commerce Undergraduate Society issued a statement Friday stating they are taking steps going forward to ensure the chant is not used in the future.
“While we do our best to provide a safe and controlled environment during formal Sauder FROSH sessions, there is admittedly little we can do to completely control what some leaders may expose their students to,” the statement said.
CUS co-chair Jacqueline Chen told the UBC newspaper, The Ubyssey, that student leaders have been aware of the chant for many years and have told students to “make sure the chant stays private.”
“We let the groups know: if it happens in the group, it has to stay in the group,” Chen told the Ubyssey.
Schmidt said he was unaware that student leaders knew of the chant and the school will be investigating whether CUS leaders told students to simply keep it out of the public eye.
Watch: UBC rape chant causes controversy
A similar chant at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax sparked national outrage earlier this week after a video of students chanting it surfaced online.
The president of SMU’s student association stepped down Friday and two students face disciplinary action over the chant after formal complaints were made.
The chant said, “SMU boys we like them young… 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 a**.”
Schmidt said there haven’t been any formal complaints or reports of similar chants being used by other school groups.
UBC assistant professor of philosophy Scott Anderson, who specializes in sex and gender ethics, said the chant encourages and trivializes sexual violence against women.
“It does trivialize the harm that’s involved in non-consensual sex and taking advantage of those who are underage or those who are incapacitated due to alcohol or other substances,” he said.
Anderson said the chant has the potential to make rape victims feel that their suffering is not important to society.
“The people who are doing this do not intend to harm people and probably are not likely to engage in this kind of behaviour themselves, but they are choosing to make fun of those who have in fact been severely harmed,” he said.
“It certainly fosters a sense that the violation of women and young girls is no big deal and that can’t help but encourage people to consider taking advantage.”
Robert Helsley, the dean of Sauder School of Business, issued a statement Saturday condemning the chant.
“… all members of this community are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that contributes positively to an environment in which respect, civility, diversity, opportunity, and inclusiveness are valued,” the statement said.
Helsley said the school is investigating and disciplinary actions may be enforced. The school also plans to educate students about the harm caused by such behaviour.
Students react to controversy over rape chant
The UBC chant sparked outrage online from students and alumni.
“I can’t even put into words how unacceptable this is, for Sauder and the institution it tries to be, and for UBC… I am so incredibly disappointed, and furious. Is that our new banner now? ‘Rape Culture–From Here,” Cynthia K. posted on the school’s Facebook page.
Other students dismissed the chant as “tradition.”
“Those inappropriate chants could be a part of [Frosh], but that stems from tradition, not so much as anyone trying to offend another human being,” one student said.
Another student said that the chants aren’t taken seriously.
“Frosh is about partying and being offensive and basically drinking…” she said. “The way that I always felt was that it was so outrageous that no one took it seriously.”
Commerce student Peter Nam said the chant did make people feel uncomfortable, but didn’t spark complaints.
“The reason why we had no complaints is because the moment someone was uncomfortable, we stopped right away,” he said.
Students said the chant has been a part of UBC Frosh for as long as a decade.
UBC CUS is so committed to a safe enviro for women they warn frosh not to get caught doing the SMU chant http://t.co/8BUwUIJ8H1
— Rob Hyndman (@rhh) September 7, 2013
— Norma Lee (@NormaC_Lee) September 7, 2013
— Devanne O’Brien (@devanneobrien) September 7, 2013
@johalifax why don’t the Senior Deans of these places just ban frosh chanting under pain of expulsion. The end.
— Lorraine Glendenning (@Glendenning_L) September 7, 2013
V. disturbing stuff. Especially quotes from students | ‘N is for no consent!’ UBC first-years led in pro-rape chant http://t.co/qeowvGHHiw
— Ian Mosby (@Ian_Mosby) September 7, 2013
— Liam St.Louis (@LiamTheSaint) September 7, 2013
— Mel (@mellow2167) September 7, 2013