It may be an unofficial All-American pastime to poke fun at our supposedly nicer, sweeter neighbors to the North, but college rape culture is alive and well in Canada, too, thank you very much.
People are rightfully pissed after an offensive Instagram video was posted of a group of idiotic student orientation leaders at Halifax’s St. Mary’s University during "Frosh Week." In matching pink T-shirts, the mostly male students gleefully yelled and clapped in unison as they performed this masterpiece on a crowded football field:
“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. St. Mary’s boys: we like them young."
Excuse me while I vomit now.
Though apparently said disgusting cheer is performed every year, this was the first year anyone thought to do anything about it (probably because it'd been committed to video and leaked online). School officials were among the disturbed viewers scrambling to figure out what the hell kind of message the chant was sending both to and about the students there. (If you ask me, it somewhat clearly and obviously seems to send the following message: "YAY BROS AT ST. MARY'S AND YAY WE LOVE US SOME RAPE WOO HOO YEAH FUN TIMEZ FOREVS FROSH WEEK YAY OH AND BEER!11!")
Steve Proctor, communications manager at St. Mary's, admitted the chant was "sexist and offensive." He also noted that the Labor Day incident went down just days after senior school administrators and police met with student union people and orientation organizers to stress "the importance of discouraging sexism and sexual assault during frosh week." (I think that meeting failed.
All 80 of the school's orientation leaders, plus execs from the student association, will be forced to take a sensitivity training course next week. Who knows whether that training will make a whit of difference in opening people's eyes, but in any case, it's clear that campus rape and consent issues extend wayyyy beyond St. Mary's.
Whatever strategies many colleges are using to help fight and prevent rape clearly aren't working -- the U.S. Department of Justice has found that about one in four women will be raped at college. In August, USC went under investigation by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) for student allegations accusing the school of mishandling 16 sex assault and rape cases. Yale recently stirred up a sh*tstorm after treating "nonconsensual sex" (i.e., rape) like it was totally NBD; and many schools set incredibly lenient punishments that allow rapists to go right on raping with impunity while victims’ lives are shattered.
I'm not sure why I'm still surprised by all this, you know? I don't remember stuff like that heinous cheer ever flying at the small hippie school where my collegiate days began (I transferred to a big state school during my sophomore year where, sadly, I could TOTALLY imagine this kind of thing going down pretty much every second of every day, with nary a word from school officials).
But just because I didn't witness a ton of loud-and-proud pro-rape shenanigans like this one doesn't mean they weren't happening -- oh, they were happening, especially at that aforementioned state school. I will never forget being at a frat party (ugh, I know), circa my junior year, and seeing a crowd of cheering bros surround a couple who were in the middle of a passionate grope-fest in a corner of the room.
As more and more dudes descended on the couple like vultures, they started yelling "GO! GO! GO!" over and over again (aimed at the guy, of course). I didn't know what to do; the escalating chants were freaking me out, so I bailed without trying to intervene. The next day, I majorly regretted it when I found out a woman had been raped at that very party. Though I had absolutely no clue whether the woman who'd been raped was the woman I'd spotted, I made a vow to never stand by silently if I witnessed something questionable happening to a woman in public. Since then -- thank God -- I haven't had many occasions to uphold my oath.
I'm on Twitter.