St. Mary’s University in Nova Scotia achieved a moment of infamy when their students’ Frosh Week bonding activities included a rally with a planned, scripted chant about rape.

SMU boys… we like them young
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
What’s the point of Frosh Week? To orient new students to school, create social connections, and set the tone for the year. 80 student leaders lead hundreds of incoming freshmen joined in the chant… but no one ever considered the message they were giving to new students… that forced sex is fun and part of the college experience. This wasn’t a sudden ‘What was I thinking?’ slip;  one of the student leaders says he’s been shouting this same chant since he was a freshman in 2009. Welcome to college life!
One in four college women is sexually assaulted; one-third of those are freshmen. The period between freshman orientation and Thanksgiving is the highest risk period for sexual assaults on college campuses. Much energy on campus goes into awareness and rape prevention activities…but how can they possibly be effective when, from the moment students set foot on campus, there are clear message from  that rape is just part of the college experience? St. Mary’s isn’t the only college with these traditions. After a student’s blog brought the St. Mary’s incident such international attention, students at other colleges in Canada and the US have talked about similar experiences.
There’s a good side to this story. St. Mary’s (and I’m sure many other universities) will be taking a hard look at freshmen orientation practices. That’s good. But I continue to be perplexed. From the time they’re in elementary school, students are showered with programs on character education, bullying, and being an ally… how is it that 800+ bright kids and youth leaders can shout joyously about rape- year after year!- and only one student  speaks out against it?
Related posts:

Talking to Teens about Sexual Assault