If you watch television, listen to the radio, read the newspaper, surf the Internet or are at all active on social media sites, chances are you've heard about Saint Mary’s University’s disgraceful rape chant or have watched the video.
Disgraceful is the kindest word this paper can use for such a crass and vile display of stupidity.
The 15-second video, which has gone viral, shows young men and women during frosh week activities at Saint Mary's University in Halifax gleefully chanting about male university students raping underage girls.
Their chant consisted of spelling out the word 'young,' providing such apropos lines as “U is for Underage” and “N is for No consent.”
Video of this chant, which allegedly has been sung in previous years at the school, prompted a near-immediate response from the public. And rightly so. There is nothing comical about rape. And let's be clear: that is what the chant is all about. Non-consensual sex is rape. Non-consensual sex with a minor is statutory rape.
The scary thing is, some of the chanters maintain it was all done in jest. They don't condone rape. They were just saying words, nothing more.
One second-year student even went on the record with provincial media as saying “It wasn't a big deal to me. I’m not a feminist kind of person. It didn’t affect me personally.” Wow. We've come a long way baby.
After a tremendous amount of public backlash over the video and subsequent student response, the student union president resigned (but he's planning to reoffer for president next term) and at least two (unnamed) student organizers will face some disciplinary action.
The university's administration has ordered the 80 frosh week leaders and the entire SMU students' union executive to take sensitivity training. The executive will also attend a conference about sexual violence and consent.
This is a slap on the wrist.
If the administration had a backbone, all of the leaders would be reprimanded. The students in question should be suspended for an entire semester so they could actually reflect on why their inability to comprehend why the chant was inappropriate is inexcusable.
These students are supposed to be leaders, guiding youths fresh out of high school. They must be held accountable for their actions and for their words. Promoting a chant that glorifies raping young girls is not the kind of leadership this world needs.
According to statistics on the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre's website, 682 assaults were reported to police in Nova Scotia in 2010 and about 84 per cent of the victims were women. That's just the reported sexual assaults.
This is not a funny subject. And the students who think it is are not mature enough to be attending the prestigious university.
It's time for SMU to take a hard look at these students and throw the book at them. Maybe then they would realize that rape isn't a laughing matter.