HALIFAX – The president of the Saint Mary’s University Student Association (SMUSA) has stepped down and two student organizers are facing disciplinary action, after a group of students took part in a Frosh Week chant that glorified rape and underage sex.
Saint Mary’s University (SMU) said Friday night a formal complaint, alleging violations of the Student Code of Conduct, was received earlier in the day.
“Under the code, any member of the University community (i.e. students, faculty, administrators or employees) may lodge a complaint within five days of the complainant having become aware of the misconduct,” a statement from the university read.
The complaint followed a Frosh Week event where between 300 and 400 students chanted about non-consensual, underage sex.
The chant goes as follows: “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**.”
SMU Communications Manager Steve Proctor said a disciplinary hearing “is intended to be held within ten days.”
Word of the disciplinary action came just moments after SMUSA President Jared Perry announced his resignation.
“It is with deep reflection that I tender my resignation,” Perry wrote in a statement on the SMUSA Facebook page. “My stepping down allows the Association and its leaders to focus exclusively on the work of re-mediating the damage earlier this week to the reputation of the Association and Saint Mary’s University.”
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Perry had already stepped down from his post as chair of Students Nova Scotia, but told Global News on Thursday no one on the student association had plans to resign.
The chant had been used in previous years, but this year it was captured on video and shared on Instagram.
Perry spoke about the video on Thursday, saying the chant’s sexist 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.
“It’s definitely the biggest mistake I’ve made throughout my university career and throughout my life,” he said.
“My first priority is that remediation and to allow my team to focus directly on their work. It has been an honour to serve the students of Saint Mary’s,” Perry said Thursday.
In Friday’s statement, Perry went on to say he would run for SMUSA president next year.
“I am personally deeply committed to addressing the damage incurred this week by being part of a long-term change initiative,” he said. “Also I believe it is important for the students of Saint Mary’s to directly assess my leadership through the electoral process.“
On Friday, a former SMU student and former frosh leader told Global News she complained about the chant a year ago, but nothing was done about it.
“I did approach someone and it went unheard,” Alexandria Bennett said.
“It was brushed off as being just for fun and unharming (sic), and no student would ever act upon that,” she said.
Proctor said the university never received her complaint and that he had “absolutely no evidence it was passed on to administration.”
*With files from Julia Wong and Patrick Odell