H. A. T. E (it’s All in the Acronym)

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image: halifaxnewsnet.ca

Jarred Perry SMUSA/ image: halifaxnewsnet.ca

Article: John Loeppky – Contributor

Chants are a representation of school pride, an intense loyalty, even to the excess, which speaks to past, current, and future students in the form of song. “Any self respecting University of Kansas alum knows the words rock Chalk Jayhawk” and even if Fireman Ed (thanks Sanchez) has retired, J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets will never die.

For some, these ditties – meant to empower through the power of a chorus – are the living quarters of some of the worst hate speech in the land. Rider fans may lack class occasionally, but our chant isn’t “Green is the Colour, Hatred is the Game.”

Apparently at St. Mary’s and UBC, this wholesome definition has been abandoned. In case you missed it, here are the lyrics: Y is for Your little sister, O is for Oh so tight, U is for Under-age, N is for No consent, G is for Grab that ass.”

Replace the last line with ‘G is for go to jail” in UBC’s case, and you have the decidedly pro-rape picture. How did the school’s Student Union President respond, you ask? Well, he tried to articulate that these chants had always been this way without any issues, except for a woman at Saint Mary’s who was soundly ignored when she tried to complain. What’s scary about changing things? Is he worried that it will destroy the morals of the institution?

To use another example, from 1980 until 2009 students at the University of Mississippi – or Ole Miss – sang “From Dixie with Love” at the end of events. The last line that was sung in this specific version was “the south will rise again” and, for a school with a bloodied and racially strife past, that couldn’t stand any longer. Before the song was removed from the school band’s repertoire, the decision was made to eliminate the school mascot. The mascot in question resembled a plantation owner and was cloaked in the colours of the Confederate flag: not exactly the model you want for tranquility and inclusion.

Ole Miss’ reaction was appropriate because they moved away from things that offend and did it peacefully.

In contrast, the reaction from the powers that be at UBC and St. Mary’s was decidedly squeamish. The message given was, “but we’ve always done it this way.” Student leaders resigned and we are meant to carry on. Ignore that those who wore the title of student leader encouraged a message that demeans a group. This situation begs the question: if this acronym had been about race, or disability, or religion, would we have the same “get over it” reaction, or would we fight harder? At what point are we telling our leaders of tomorrow – albeit silently – that whatever insults they sling are okay as long as there are enough voices singing along?

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