In case you missed the story of the UBC Sauder School of Business rape chant, check out the Ubyssey’s reporting on the subject:
“An actual cheer at ubc,” a Sauder School of Business first-year wrote on Twitter. “Y-O-U-N-G at UBC we like em young Y is for yourrr sister O is for ohh so tight U is for under age N is for noo consent G is for goo to jail.”
This might be somewhat counterintuitive, but I am more encouraged by the reaction to the UBC rape chant than I am discouraged by the chant itself. It received near-unanimous condemnation. I didn’t even read one person try to rationalize it with the good ‘ol “can’t you take a joke?” or “boys will be boys.” Did you? It could just be my overwhelmingly progressive Facebook friends, but it seems like the UBC community is rather disturbed by the chant.
Ultimately, perhaps this is really a story about the powerful psycho-social pressure of groupthink, tradition, and in/out group anxieties? I see this in a similar light as those stories of people being attacked in broad daylight while a crowd does nothing, or stories where de-individualization and anonymity turns good people bad. Put yourself in the shoes of these overwhelmed university freshman: you’re told this is a decades-long tradition, the mature “leaders” are doing it, and the dozens of boisterous students around you are doing it. Could you really be “that guy” who ruins the fun?
Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to excuse the actions of these students. It was wrong, and I think it does reflect an underlining rape culture. But expulsion and unmitigated scorn, although comforting, is too simplistic a reaction. We must be courageous enough to recognize how this culture operates within each of us (mostly subconsciously), how it can sometimes be triggered, and what steps we must take to stop it.
For me, the obvious trigger is orientation culture itself. These mega-events are built unapologetically for one primary purpose: to induce irrational, uninhibited frenzy. Nothing could be more damaging to critical thought, scholarship, or a healthy university culture.
If you took any one of those students aside and had a one-on-one discussion about rape, I bet you they would have a much different opinion than those expressed in the heinous chant.
In my ideal orientation, I would include workshops, lectures, and panel discussions about feminism, sexual assault in the campus context, and critical thinking. But even before that, I think I would just axe Frosh–that would probably do the trick.