The Commerce Undergraduate Society at the University of British Columbia has rejected the hiring of a special sexual abuse counsellor in response to frosh week chants condoning rape.
The university had expected the CUS to put up $200,000 to help fund the position after it emerged UBC commerce students were led in a chant about having non-consensual sex with under-aged girls.
However, the funding was rejected in a student referendum, with only 245 students out of 815 voting in favour of funding the role, which would have provided student education on sexual abuse and violence.
The news comes at a sensitive time for the campus community, as police continue to hunt for a man who has sexually assaulted several women on campus over the last few months.
In recent weeks, some on campus have questioned whether the community takes the issue of sexual assault seriously and some have resorted to putting up posters urging readers: 'Don't be a rapist!'
In a statement, recently elected CUS president Sean Fleming said the referendum result is not a reflection on how students feel about addressing sexual violence.
"Students really wanted to participate more in the response, rather than simply contributing financial support, as they recognize this is a long term, community-wide issue and they wanted the response to reflect that," said Fleming.
Robert Helsley, dean of the Sauder School of Business, also issued a statement, expressing his deep disappointment that the referendum on the CUS pledge to provide the funds was unsuccessful.
"I know that the wider community will be disappointed as well," said Helsey.
"This pledge was made by CUS student leaders to strengthen awareness on issues related to sexual violence and the need for a safe and respectful environment for all members of the UBC community."
Tackling rape culture
The pro-rape chant first came to light in September, when it was reportedly sung on a bus during the Sauder FROSH, a three-day orientation for the Sauder School of Business, organized by the CUS.
The chant condones non-consensual sex with underage girls saying, "Y-O-U-N-G at UBC, we like 'em young, Y is for your sister, O is for oh so tight, U is for underage, N is for no consent, G is for go to jail."
UBC president Stephen Toope announced a series of measures in September aimed at making rape chants unacceptable, including a public apology from CUS and community service for all 84 CUS leaders.
Since then CUS leaders have also completed Anti-Violence Ally Training with the Sexual Assault Support Centre.
“These are ongoing issues here on campus and we will continue to seek ways that we can make an impact in addressing them, both as an organization and as individuals” Fleming said.
“The CUS takes these issues very seriously and is dedicated to ensuring positive change occurs on campus.”
The CUS also came under fire earlier in October for the so-called 'Pocahontas chant', which saw frosh week students sit cross-legged in a circle and imitate playing drums on the ground.
It allegedly included a line that said, "White man steal our land, white man steal our land."
As a result of that controversy, indigenous topics will become part of the school's core curriculum and students will participate in workshops involving the First Nations Studies Program.
First-year orientation will also be redesigned to include education in aboriginal issues.