Canada, Commentary, Human Rights

Sauder rape cheer: we need educational overhaul, not sensitivity training

A version of this article was published in The Ubyssey following the news that a cheer promoting rape was included in the frosh activities of UBC’s Sauder School of Business.

You can blame Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” the media machine that bemoans the jail time given to rapists, or the oft-discussed “hookup culture” on college campuses. But at the end of the day, we can only ask: what could be lacking in our educational systems that led these students, male and female, to proudly shout such words to a group they were charged with “welcoming” to UBC?

The most disturbing part of the Sauder rape cheer story is perhaps not the content of the disgusting chant itself, or the possibility that this is considered a “tradition” by the CUS. Rather, it is the indifference shown by the student leaders exposed as being aware of the cheer who did not hint at an apology, but rather seemed mildly annoyed that first-year students had broken the code of silence by confirming the existence of the chant on social media.

What was missing during years of study in a top-tier educational institution that failed to make these volunteers and organizers understand the gravity of trivializing rape? The students who led these crimes are not rapists, or even conscious rape enablers. They are, however, complicit in minimizing the impact of one of the grossest violations of personal security: rape. (And underage rape at that.)

Sexual assault exists at UBC in a very real way. In a survey conducted by The Ubyssey in 2010, nearly 60 per cent of students reported feeling unsafe on campus at night — and 7.5 per cent of those said they do not feel safe at all. The same study reported that 36 per cent of respondents had heard of at least one incident of sexual assault on campus during their time at UBC.

Students at the Sauder School of Business are studying to become the business leaders of tomorrow, leaders who will hopefully manage HR departments and maintain business ethics as diligently as they monitor the cash flows of their company.

Study after study minimizes the importance of a liberal arts education. But perhaps these students, rather than undergoing “sensitivity” training (rape is bad, people — you don’t need a weekend clinic to teach you that) should consider taking a sociology or women’s studies course. Maybe that will help them understand why promoting rape culture to a bus full of undergraduates, and encouraging these students to keep it a secret, is as abhorrent as it is incomprehensible.

Michelle Ghoussoub is a fourth-year political science student at UBC.


One thought on “Sauder rape cheer: we need educational overhaul, not sensitivity training

  1. David Sproule says:

    An amazing piece and the best response we have heard out of UBC. Jean and I have been dismayed by the weak apologies and seeming acceptance of the Sauder frosh week antics. Thank you Michelle for writing it. I have forwarded it to Jean and to our daughters.


    Sent from my iPad

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