Rape chants finally being addressed at two post-secondary schools

Chants about sexual assault, “have been going on for many years”

Mike Davies, Editor-in-Chief Ω

Saint Mary’s University Student Association President Jared Perry announced on Friday, Sept. 6 that he would be stepping down as president of SMUSA. (Michael Langlais/The Journal)

Saint Mary’s University Student Association President Jared Perry announced on Friday, Sept. 6 that he would be stepping down as president of SMUSA. (Michael Langlais/The Journal)

Who gets groups of people together to chant enthusiastically about raping underage girls?

The Student’s Union at St. Mary’s University (SMU) in Halifax and the leaders chosen by the Commerce Undergrad Society (CUS) at the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) school of business, that’s who.

The chant, the fallout from one version of which has reverberated nation-wide, has been taught to students for years, according to statements made by SMU Student Association (SMUSA) president Jared Perry to the SMU Journal shortly after the controversial video was posted to Instagram during frosh week.

“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 ass, – Saint Mary’s boys, we like ‘em young!” was the chant at SMU Sept. 2, lead by more than 80 Orientation Week leaders and yelled by more than 350 students.

After seeing the uproar over the video, Perry stepped down from his role as chair of the board of directors of StudentsNS, an alliance of various Nova Scotia student associations, though not as president of SMUSA, saying he wanted to remain in his position to help build awareness and “target sexism that he feels is pervasive on campus,” according to the SMU Journal.

He later resigned from his position with SMUSA as well, as has Carrigan Desjardins, who held the position of SMUSA vice president student life and was in charge of Orientation Week.

Shortly after the SMU chant story broke, The Ubyssey published a story online about a similar situation at the Sauder School of Business at UBC.

The UBC chant is reportedly, “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 underage, N is for no consent, G is for go to jail,” slightly different from the SMU chant, but very similar in both wording and message.

According the Ubyssey article, the chants themselves are not the issue of concern to the CUS, but instead the location and publication of the activity.

“While the CUS had been chastised in the past for the cheers, Chen said the undergraduate society now works to make sure the chant stays private,” according to The Ubyssey.

The Chen being quoted in the story is Jacqueline Chen, co-chair of Sauder FROSH, the three-day orientation organized by the CUS.

“We had problems a very long time ago with the cheers being public in a sort of way and the dean seeing,” Chen is quoted saying, going on to effectively say that the CUS doesn’t have an issue with the chant as long as it’s not performed in a public place.

Chen is quoted in the Ubyssey article as saying, “There’s only so much you can do with somebody who wants to publicly state something, but we do get them to remove it [from social media] if we do find it…. That’s a big thing for us.”

First-year Sauder student Chelsea Maguddayao, who was on a bus where the chant was sung, confirmed this position.

“They specifically told us right before we cheered and everything that you can only cheer it on the bus and you can’t go elsewhere and cheer it outside,” she said.

The CUS has issued an open letter stating that while they do not accept responsibility for these actions they, “will be taking all feasible steps going forward to ensure all unacceptable behavior is fully eradicated from our orientation events.”

Chen, who had previously told The Ubyssey, “It’s not something we can control, to be honest,” was a signatory on the letter, which states, “We have always held a no-tolerance stance regarding activities and behaviour that condone harmful actions towards our students in any way.”

Gillian Ong, vice president engagement of the CUS, who had previously told the Ubyssey, “Whatever words come out of the leaders’ mouth we cannot directly control,” also signed the letter saying the CUS, “will be turning a critical eye on all of our services to ensure that as an organization, the Commerce Undergraduate Society is inclusive and safe for all participants at all times.”

The University itself has issued a statement saying, “Such behaviour would be completely inconsistent with the values of UBC and the Sauder School of Business and completely inconsistent with the instruction that the Commerce Undergraduate Society receives on appropriate conduct prior to FROSH,” and is signed by both Robert Helsley, dean of the Sauder School of Business and Louise Cowin, UBC vice president for students.

Disciplinary action is being considered by the administration.

With files from Cydney Proctor/SMU Journal and Arno Rosenfeld/Ubyssey

Editor’s note: If you’ve seen or heard anything like this in your time at Thompson Rivers University, The Omega would like to hear about it. Contact editor@truomega.ca with your story.