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Friday, September 13, 2013

Saint Mary's University students rally against rape culture

Women's Centre asks for immediate response.

Posted By on Fri, Sep 13, 2013 at 10:17 AM

click to enlarge SMUSA student leaders involved in the rape chant held a press conference last week.
  • SMUSA student leaders involved in the rape chant held a press conference last week.
Saint Mary’s University isn’t a lone participant in rape culture, students, admin and faculty heard at a rally Thursday.

About 110 people gathered in the outdoor atrium. Students wove through the crowd, heading for class. Some stopped to listen.

SMU got caught, Halifax’s poet laureate El Jones said, but its students aren’t the only ones who have cheered rape.

An Instagram video posted September 2 showed SMU frosh leaders 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.”

Frosh leaders cheered similar words at the University of British Columbia. Both campuses have repeated the chants for years.

After local media publicized the SMU chant, all 80 frosh leaders were told to attend sensitivity training, the university promised to conduct a review and SMUSA president Jared Perry, who participated in the chant, stepped down.

The frosh leaders’ actions were symptoms of a wider culture, rally organizers told the crowd.

“Rape culture is defined as attitudes, behaviours, messages, language, laws, media and other everyday phenomena that promote sexual violence,” SMU Women’s Centre coordinator Jasmine Bhomia said. “It is prevalent throughout society.”

The centre has presented SMU with a list of requests to promote equality on campus, including a zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault on campus, sensitivity training for frosh leaders and a sexual assault counselor, she said.

Neil Matheson attended the rally because his friend was raped.

When she was 14, she was drinking with a guy and she passed out.

“He just thought that it was OK. He bought her a quart of whiskey—of course they were going to fuck later.”

Men can help by standing up to rape culture, he said.

“Real men treat women with respect. Real men don’t rape.”

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