Have you ever found yourself singing along to the lyrics of a song and suddenly going, “Holy crap! Did he really say that?!”
Google the lyrics of some of your favorite songs and be prepared. My favorite song of the summer, Blurred Lines? I really wish I could unlearn those lyrics.
There’s something about chanting or singing that makes us lose sight of the meaning of the words we are saying.
The Orientation Committee at St. Mary’s University learned this the hard way last week.
Committee members were caught on camera leading hundreds frosh in a chant that was…how shall I put it nicely…just plain wrong.
“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. SMU boys we like them young!”
Did anyone actually think about what they were saying? It seems like the siren of the song lulled the organizers into thinking that their words didn’t matter.
Now, imagine for a moment that the rhythm of the chant and energy of the crowd were removed. Only the words remained.
Here’s what a simple conversation between a new freshman and his orientation leader might sound like:
Male Orientation Leader: Hey man. Welcome to SMU!
New Frosh: Yeah, thanks!
MOL: So, listen. Uh, I don’t suppose you have a sister, do you?
NF: Yeah, I actually I do. She’s in Grade 10.
MOL: Cool! You know, us SMU guys, we like them young.
NF: What are you talking about, man? Are you saying something about my sister?
MOL: Chill out, man. It’s OK. Us SMU guys, we just ike ‘em young, like your sister. Cuz she’s so tight, you know?
NF: Are you kidding me right now? Shut the hell up, man! Why are you talking about my sister like that?!
MOL: Don’t freak out, man. I just really like the fact that she’s underage, you know? I don’t even need to get her consent. I’m just going to grab her ass.”
I don’t think we need to stretch our imaginations to figure out how this scenario would end. The Orientation Guy would most likely be on the ground trying to find his teeth, while the frosh rushed home to get his sister into a nunnery.
Of course, a conversation with dialogue like this sounds ridiculous.
And yet, when it was sung in the middle of a football field, by hundreds of young people, it somehow seemed completely normal. Young men and women smiled and sang along.
The release of the video has caused an outpouring of outrage across North America.
Once again, adults are shocked and appalled by the behaviour of “young people today”!
On local radio call-in shows, outraged old men were calling for the end of orientation events altogether.
“Kids today! They have no respect! It’s just Party! Party! Party! Orientation is just partying and should be cancelled. University should be learning and nothing else!”
OK. Thanks for that, Gramps.
But in the real world where I live, orientation committees play a valuable role in helping young people make that transition from home to independent living.
Orientation used to be about hazing and heavy drinking. Enormous progress has been made in getting these things out of official orientation events. And I have faith that progress on eradicating this bizarre “rape culture” will be made as well.
All we can do is keep calling foul when we hear these things and help kids to understand why it’s wrong.
Some folks are saying that it’s unfair that SMU Student Association President, Jared Perry, was pressured to resign. He made a mistake. That’s all. And he apologized, so…
Seriously people. We are the town of Rehtaeh Parsons. For the past few months, our airwaves have been full of discussions about the importance of consent and the dangers of a so-called “rape culture”. How could anyone not know that this chant was wrong?
I’m sure Mr. Perry did plenty of wonderful things during his term and I suspect he has a bright future ahead of him. No one is saying he’s the devil incarnate.
BUT, when you make a mistake, you have to own it. And owning it means accepting the consequences.
SMU needs to regains its reputation and rebuild the trust of its students, alumni and community. And they will.
This “scandal” will blow over and a new one will take its place.
But let’s hope the lesson sticks. Think first..then think again.
5 thoughts on ““Gimme a Y! Gimme an O!” Seriously…Gimme some common sense.”
You can say that again! I am still curious about what went on. Though, I’m reconsidering abolishing Frosh Week altogether, it just needs to be revamped. It should be more about showing them the realities of university life, like realities of academic study, or managing finances before the credit card guys tech am that the hard way.
Great read my friend and provided an another opportunity for discussion with my daughter who is soon to attend universtiy and another who is actually attenidng SMU now. We cannot talk about it too much.
Thanks. We just need to keep talking about it. I feel bad for SMU…they are by no means the only university guilty of this sort of thing. They are just the one that got caught.
Mrs. Hollis, I just stumbled upon your blog, and I wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed reading your posts. I also wanted to pass on to you a link from a televised debate I had with the Frontier Centre recently regarding a position they hold around ‘traditional vs differentiated’ teaching. The video of that telecast is here: http://albertaprimetime.com/Stories.aspx?pd=5579
My other musings about education can be found here: http://philmcrae.com/blog.html
Best wishes for your powerful (and empowering) work, I can see that you care deeply about education and forging a better society for all of our children and youth.
Thanks so much for responding to my posts. I watched the link you sent me and all I can say is, “Halleluja”! I thought I was a lone voice in the wilderness. It sounds like we are on the same wavelength where kids are concerned. Michael Zwaagstra and his crew make me want to poke my eyes out with sharp sticks. I can’t even begin to understand the logic that they use. If you spend one day in a regular public school, you will see that we can’t keep cramming round kids into square holes. They won’t learn!!! Today, for example, I had a grade 6 girl in resource who has been sick about coming to school because she doesn’t ‘get’ math the way her teacher is teaching it. All I had to do was approach it from a different angle, using her specific strengths and challenges, and suddenly she was getting it. She walked away happy, proud of herself, and prepared to keep trying.
And that bull…about colleges having to deal with lesser students? Please. They were saying that about us when I went to university 25 years ago. They said it in Plato’s time! Every generation thinks the new one is broken and would be better if we went back to “the good old days”. Spare me. Join us in the 21st century.
I will be following your blog. Thanks again. Keep fighting the good fight. Our kids are worth it.