Frosh Week Chants Coming Under Fire
St. Mary’s and UBC have both came under fire for pro-rape chant
Saint Mary’s University in Halifax recently came under fire for a chant that promoted rape of young girls. The chant was caught on video and posted to Instagram, which brought negative attention to its annual Frosh Week.
The chant, spelled out the word, YOUNG. Some of the phrases included, “Y is for your sister… U is for underage, N is for no consent,” and “St. Mary’s boys, we like them young.” The 15-second video showed frosh week leaders leading the chant. Students of St. Mary’s have also claimed that the chant has been used for years.
Jared Perry, President of St. Mary’s Student Council and chair of Students-Nova Scotia, stepped down from both positions following the anger following the chant. Perry’s Vice-President, Carrigan Desjardins, also has resigned from his position. Perry has been quoted as calling the chant an “oversight.” All 80 of the frosh week leaders and the St. Mary’s University Students’ Union executive will have to undergo sensitivity training on the matter. The Students’ Union executive will also be attending a conference about sexual violence and consent.
Days after, the University of British Columbia (UBC) pulled its support for Commerce Undergraduate Society Frosh Week, when allegations of a similar chant that was used at St. Mary’s was used at a UBC orientation event during a bus ride.
“We really pride ourselves on never technically having a ‘frosh week,’ more of an idea of welcome and welcoming new students onto campus with our Welcome Week. We also have Frost Week in the winter, which we have started up. The entire idea of these programs is to have opportunities for students to come in and interact with older students, interact with each other as they’re new, and have opportunities for a new and exciting campus environment…” He goes on to add, “we understand that coming to university is a daunting task on its own. Why would we make it harder?”
Many are commenting, though, that the big issue from these chants isn’t necessarily the negative Frosh Week traditions, but of rape culture itself.
Jill Arnott, Executive Director of the Women’s Centre at the University of Regina, believes that chants like this are too normalized with people.
“We still live in a culture where violence against women is still a part of popular culture.” Arnott cites Nelly’s Hot in Here as an example.
Arnott explains that unfortunately, we do not notice that the language and actions of things like the chants done at Saint Mary’s and UBC have real implications.
“Women and women’s bodies have been objectified for so long… visually and physically, people participate in this chant without being aware of what this means.”
The video, which showed the horrible chant was posted online, which may have affected why it has garnered attention.
“Social media across the board has impacted these issues,” Arnott comments. “They can’t ignore it.”