FROSH week controversies: Should FROSH events be banned following no consent chants?
The University of British Columbia has announced that the Sauder School of Business will no longer support FROSH events sponsored by the Commerce Undergraduate Society (CUS).
Dean of the Sauder School, Robert Helsley, made the announcement on Monday after it was revealed over the weekend that a chant that advocated non-consensual sex was allegedly used during FROSH events put on by the CUS.
So is it time to ban FROSH events from university campuses? Or change the way they are structured?
The UBC incident came to light after lyrics of a chant by students at St. Mary’s University in Halifax were revealed that encouraged sexual assaults of underaged girls.
UBC Alma Mater Society President, Caroline Wong, said FROSH is a necessary part of the freshman experience.
“FROSH does serve an essential purpose, helping high school students who are going to university adjust to the university environment,” she said on UNfiltered. “It helps them build a support network that is so essential for student success.”
“FROSH not only has social activities but orientation programs through the campus, as well as how to succeed at university.”
Others agree, saying it’s not about banning FROSH, but about using it in a better way.
“On our campuses there is a culture of rape, of non-consent,” said Katie Marocchi, from the Canadian Federation of Students. “So I don’t think the discussion should be about whether administration should be taking over FROSH week, but rather, how can we organize FROSH or take these opportunities to plan them in a responsible way to include programming that educates students about consent.”
The UBC story first appeared in the Ubyssey newspaper and reporter Arno Rosenfeld said what surprised him was how open the students were about the chant.
According to the Twitter account of a Sauder School of Business first-year student, the chant at UBC was: “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.”
“Generally you’d expect people to deny it,” said Rosenfeld, “especially after what came out at St. Mary’s.”
“They opened up, they were completely forthcoming with all of this information, until the story broke, and now, nobody’s talking,” he added.
Students were told that they could do the chant, but to keep it secret and not tell anyone, which Rosenfeld said points to the fact that people knew what they were doing was wrong.
Simon Fraser University has not been part of the controversy, but it could change the way their FROSH weeks are held as well.
Wong said she see this move by the dean as a way to review the UBC FROSH weeks on campus. “Really create active bystanders and educate our students about what it right and what’s wrong with rape culture, just getting away with any notions about rape culture, and really moving forward with students who have built a better awareness and who are more educated about the issue.”
Many are saying these incidents with the chants are just a representation of a larger issue that rape culture is just so strong on university campuses; it is a part of life there so the words to these chants were not met with any big surprises.
“Even some of the FROSH leaders, both at St. Mary’s and at UBC were saying ‘it’s just lyrics, it’s just a chant, they had no meaning behind it’,” said Estefania Duran, editor of SFU’s The Peak newspaper. “But that’s almost saying verbal abuse had no meaning. It stops being something wrong and I think when people take it lightly and they use it as part of the chant, they don’t even take a moment to realize what they are singing to first year students, a lot of them underage.”
“And even if they are overage, it’s a topic that should be taken seriously.”
What do you think? Will these events lead to change? Let us know in the comments.
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