Freshman business students at the University of British Columbia who led a cheer at orientation condoning the rape of underage girls have plunged the school into a national controversy.
In the days that followed, two student co-chairs of the event resigned, the Sauder School of Business building was defaced with graffiti blaring “Sauder Teaches Rape,” and the school pulled its support for “Frosh Week” activities.
Sauder Dean Robert Helsley vowed to investigate the incident, which occurred last week on a bus taking students between events, calling the chant a “deeply upsetting” event. Faculty members have been asked to increase the emphasis in class on “issues related to respect, dignity, and ethics.”
The chant followed an earlier incident at St. Mary’s University in Halifax. After a video of students there conducting a similar chant surfaced on social media, the president of the student association stepped down and two students now face disciplinary action.
The chant at UBC came to light after a first-year student posted the lyrics to Twitter. Jacqueline Chen, one of the organizers of Frosh Week, told UBC student newspaper, The Ubyssey, that the chant has been used for many years and that Frosh Week leaders have been instructed to keep the chant private.
The Commerce Undergraduate Society, which runs Frosh Week, initially issued a statement (PDF) vowing to take “all feasible steps” to ensure better behavior, but said “there is little we can do to completely control what some leaders may expose their students to.” Two student leaders subsequently issued an apology describing the chant as “offensive and unacceptable conduct.”