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UBC Frosh Chant: Pro-Rape Cheer Has Been A Concern For Years

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The pro-rape chant sung at a Sauder School of Business frosh event has been around for decades, say former students. (Facebook)
The pro-rape chant sung at a Sauder School of Business frosh event has been around for decades, say former students. (Facebook)

In the week following revelations that a pro-rape chant was sung at frosh events held by UBC's Sauder School of Business students, The Huffington Post B.C. has learned that concerns were raised about inappropriate chants as early as 2009.

Minutes from a March 16, 2009 meeting of the Commerce Undergraduate Society (CUS) quote frosh organizer Margaret Curran noting that going forward "all frosh cheers must be appropriate."

Her comments were part of a determined effort by the society's then executive to ban chants such as the Y-O-U-N-G pro-rape verse that has ensnared both Sauder and St. Mary's University in controversy, Johannes Rebane told The Huffington Post B.C. Rebane is a former CUS president who served as VP academic on the 2009 council that spearheaded the move to clean up the CUS's frosh.

Rebane remembers first hearing the pro-rape chant on a bus heading to a night event in 2007. He says it was neither a very creative nor an inclusive chant and that he didn't partake in it himself.

But the effort to be rid of it proved difficult. Rebane says that while he was VP academic, the CUS introduced an official policy banning the chant, but frosh leaders kept bringing it up at conferences and other events.

"Those frosh leaders were admonished when they did, but there's only so much one can do to control an event," Rebane said.

Minutes from the next CUS board meeting on March 30, reference a new "Honour Code" being introduced by Sauder administration for undergraduate students.

The code was intended to help Sauder students represent the brand well in the business community, say minutes from a May 25, 2009 meeting.

The Huffington Post B.C. contacted UBC Public Affairs Tuesday with a number of questions specific to this timeline. We asked if Sauder/UBC was aware of the CUS efforts to ban the chant in 2009, whether anyone from the administration would have read the freely available CUS board minutes, and if there was any connection between the move to ban the chant and the introduction of the honour code.

In response, UBC Public Affairs forwarded the following message from Sauder Dean Robert Helsley, who was not at UBC in 2009.

On Monday, together with the VP Students we appointed a fact-find (sic) panel to look at what happened with regard to the story posted in the Ubyssey and all related matters.

This was the first time I had been personally aware of this chant. I have become aware that students and others have claimed it has been going on for years. While I want the focus of this investigation to be on what happened this year, if there are relevant facts of past behaviour I do want to know about that as well.

Here's what I can tell you about our relationship with the CUS and what happened this year: this is an event that is founded and organized by the UBC Commerce Undergraduate Society. The Sauder School of Business meets with the Commerce Undergraduate Society and Frosh Co-Chairs to ensure that issues on underage drinking, safety, equity, inclusivity, respectful environment, professionalism, security are addressed in the organization of Frosh.

Specific to this year, I am told that faculty staff met with the co-chair of Frosh in June of this year CUS presented their plan for frosh including how they were going to address: preventing and dealing with underage drinking, student safety, security, equity/inclusivity/respectful environment/professionalism, leader training, campus space and resource usage and working with campus partners. Staff and students specifically talked about inappropriate behaviour.

These are some of the issues that will be reviewed as we continue our fact finding and consider further actions.

A call into the CUS office to speak to current President Enzo Woo was met with a terse "no comment."

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