Education and prevention programs essential in light of recent chant controversy Canadian University Press September 12, 2013 12:00 am News CHERISE LETSON CUP Atlantic Bureau Chief A screenshot of a video of the chant. Video can be found here FREDERICTON (CUP) — An Instagram video showing about 400 St. Mary’s University students chanting a sexist cheer is an example of a culture campuses need to change, says Jonathan Williams, the executive director of Nova Scotia students association advocacy group StudentsNS. The video, shot on Sept. 2, shows students of the Halifax university chanting “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 — Saint Mary’s boys we like them young.” “We’re shocked that this took place. It’s very disappointing. It’s completely unacceptable to have this kind of thing occur on one of our campuses,” Williams said. StudentsNS was not aware of the chant. Williams said it was remarkable that the chant, which has been used for years according to some SMU students, could have carried on for so long. He said the incident is an example of a passive culture on campuses. “I think it speaks to a culture where we don’t intervene when we hear things that are unacceptable which is a problem and that’s a culture that needs to change,” he said. On Aug. 28, StudentsNS announced a $46,156 partnership with the Nova Scotia provincial government to help prevent sexual assault on campuses. The initiative will include two separate reviews of student union policies around alcohol and sexual assault prevention and will help student unions implement changes. There will also be an awareness campaign. Williams said the projects will help prevent such situations from happening again. “That’s all about giving student unions expert advice on what they can do, to having activities that are safe as possible and promoting a healthy culture,” Williams said. To create “a culture on our campuses where people are looking to help each other out if they’re in danger or could be at risk and certainly this [chant] is not supportive of that.” Nova Scotia isn’t the only province that’s been aiming to prevent sexual assault on campuses. The Fredericton Sexual Assault Crisis Centre also started a project on the University of New Brunswick, St. Thomas University and New Brunswick Community College campuses with the same goal. Project coordinator Maggie Crain said SMU’s chant is not an isolated incident. “For me, it’s not about St. Mary’s University. It’s about all universities and colleges. A lot of other colleges and universities have been reprimanded for similar things like this, unfortunately my first response to that was not surprised,” Crain said. Though rape culture is existent on many campuses, Crain said the fact someone pointed the chant out this time around is a sign of change. “We must be making some headway, some movement that if this chant has been around for so long that finally someone stepping up and saying, ‘This is not right. We need to change this and hold those accountable,’” she said. In order to change the culture on campuses, Cain said there needs to be open dialogue that engages everyone. “That’s part of what [we’re] doing on campus … we’ve been striving over the past year and will continue for this coming year to bring awareness to [campuses] about the issue and try to open discussion and break that silence and hopefully [bring] this issue out to light,” Crain said. She said the incident at SMU is something campuses need to reflect on as they move forward. “This isn’t about St. Mary’s University, this is about culture and how we look at this issue now from this perspective with this incident,” Crains said. – Photo: Supplied nah And no staff ever though to bring it up as wrong either?