Frosh weeks take place at nearly every university, and most people are familiar with the usual pub-crawls, keggers, and hijinks that students get up to at this time. People understand that these first couple weeks are the only time most students have to let loose until they finish exams. They understand these hijinks can at times have sexual undertones, and that it’s harmless. What is hard for people to understand is the chanting performed at UBC and recorded at St. Mary’s University, and it became an even harder pill to swallow when news surfaced that these chants were a tradition. How something so offensive can become a tradition is boggling. It has left the nation pointing a lot of fingers, and asking a lot of questions.
Two organizers from UBC and one from St. Mary’s University have since resigned after the public heard about the chants. It is obvious that these people don’t intentionally support rape, but having the nation’s eyes on you can make you realize just how big of a mistake you made. Their mistake was making light of such a serious subject, imposing this chant upon the nervous first years that just wanted to fit in, and not taking into consideration the feelings of those people who’ve dealt with sexual assault. So why would these people leading the chants start them, if they themselves don’t seriously condone non-consensual sex?
UVic’s frosh weeks are no shining example either. Minutes from a meeting of the ESS (Engineering Students Society) made mention of including the Nursing students in their pub-crawl, but discussed if it was “worth the risk” because of “one or two people who could screw it up for everyone.” They asked, “what’s the point of the sensitivity training?” because, “if [they] prepare for the upcoming pub-crawl based on the last pub-crawl, new things may go wrong.” This year, a rumour of a Commerce students’ pub-crawl making an impromptu venue swap to a strip club hit the grapevine. The pub-crawl’s second stop of the night was supposed to be V Lounge, a bar that sits on top of strip club The Fox Showroom Pub, but according to Stephanie Fuller, the Commerce students’ director of social events, “[V Lounge] apparently heard that our event was cancelled.” So, without space at the planned venue to accommodate the 150 students attending, “half of [the] pub-crawl was upstairs and half was downstairs.” Fuller says, “everyone still had a great time.” In fact, Stephanie Du, vice president of student engagement, said that it was “probably the one location out of the five that we had that people really enjoyed.” Why wouldn’t they though? After all, there’s just that something about frosh week; although, out of the 150 that attended can you assume no one felt awkward or offended? After all someone did come forward and inform The Martlet that this had happened.
Is there just something about frosh week? That would be an easy way to settle this. A way for Canada to brush past a shocking story. After all, problems like this have been happening all over Canada and the U.S for years. It seems that people, during their first couple weeks of school, attempt to be more brash and offensive than the last person; they try to push the envelope to get a laugh or attention. Maybe this country needs to look at why degrading young women is the way people choose to be offensive. Janni Aragon, a UVic Political Science professor, recently said in her article in the Globe and Mail that men and women, “are bombarded with hypersexualized media that informs or normalizes ideas and practices.” “Rape Culture educates boys and men that girls and women are always sexually available to them.” Does that mean we should be pointing the blame at the media?
Maybe it is something about frosh week, or maybe, like many news sources are saying now, it’s “Rape Culture.” It’s impossible to definitively say where it stems from, and every article seems to point a finger at a different source: the organizers, the social system, social media, rap artists, and mainstream media. It’s a conversation that has been and will be going on for a long time. With that being said, how many more scandals does this country need to witness before we all say enough? Before real change happens? If we all start educating ourselves now, maybe we can help the movement move a little faster. Check out whiteribbon.ca and the Women’s Sexual Assault Center at vwsac.com, and get involved with the local Slut Walks that happen near the beginning of each summer.