The chant, which has reportedly been used for the past five years at Saint Mary’s University (SMU) in Halifax, Nova Scotia, recently surfaced on YouTube and other outlets, where it has produced both shock and anger.
“SMU boys, we like them young,” the chant begins as the students then proceed to turn the word “young” into an acronym. “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 [expletive].”
Officials at the school state that the incident occurred on Labor Day at an event called “Turf Burn,” which serves as a welcome for freshman during frosh week.
“We were horrified. We couldn’t believe that this was happening on our campus,” Steve Proctor, communications manager for SMU, told Global News Canada. “It was wholly unacceptable.”
He stated that he immediately set up a meeting with the student group that organized the event to express concern. Proctor, who said that he was initially angered by the footage, told reporters that he believes the students didn’t realize what they were saying.
“I don’t believe that there was anyone in the group that understood what they were doing,” he stated. “[T]here were people who were crying when they realized exactly what they had done. … There was no malice involved. They just got caught up in a thing.”
However, student Jeannie Denyes disagrees that her classmates were unaware of the meaning of the chant. She said that she considered leaving the university after learning of the incident.
“I cried for three hours last night after I saw this. I am a rape survivor. I have been affected by sexual violence against underaged minors,” she told CBC News. “As a Saint Mary’s student, I don’t feel this is entertainment. I don’t feel this is something they didn’t know better than to say.”
Proctor said that officials asked students how the matter could be rectified, and they suggested that all 80 student leaders be mandated to enroll in sensitivity training classes and also attend an upcoming sexual assault conference at St. Francis Xavier University. At this time, no other disciplinary action will be taken, but university President Colin Dodds said in a statement this week that he is taking “measures to ensure it does not happen in the future.”
“I accept that I and the university administration have a role to oversee and guide student leaders,” he said. “We failed in that responsibility.”
Viewers throughout the nation have likewise expressed outrage.
“I’m surprised that this chant has been used for years and it’s taken ’til now for the university and students to realize it’s inappropriate,” commented one viewer with the screen name Dolphindoll. “I would tend to think the only reason that it has been deemed wrong now is because a video was made and released, causing it to be seen publicly. Otherwise, the practice of using it would have likely gone on for many more years.”
“I don’t know what’s more awful: the guys cheering it or the girls beside them laughing,” added another named Chrissie. “Definitely not cool. Get some integrity. You are in university; act like it.”