71 per cent of Canadians outraged by frosh week chants: poll
Published Friday, October 4, 2013 7:07PM ADT
Last Updated Friday, October 4, 2013 7:11PM ADT
A poll has found that 71 per cent of Canadians are outraged over vulgar frosh week chants at Saint Mary’s University and the University of British Columbia.
The poll, conducted by Ipsos Reid for CTV News, found that 29 per cent of Canadians felt the chants were just harmless fun.
According to the poll, Atlantic Canadians are among those most upset.
“If you look across the country, what you find is that while Alberta seemed the most incensed over the chants that were used, those people on either side of the coast in B.C. and Atlantic Canada were next in line,” says John Wright, senior vice-president of Ipsos Reid.
The controversial chant was performed by 80 frosh leaders – both male and female – in front of about 300 of their first-year peers at a frosh week event at Saint Mary’s University in September.
A video of the chant, which encourages the sexual assault of underage girls, surfaced online, sparking a national outcry and prompting the resignation of Jared Perry, president of the Saint Mary’s Student Association.
A similar chant was performed during frosh week at the University of British Columbia, the lyrics of which were tweeted by a first-year UBC business student and later came to the attention of the university’s campus newspaper.
The poll found that Canadians most outraged by the chants are those with a university education, at 80 per cent, but opinions are mixed on Saint Mary’s University campus.
“It’s not good. I think we can all agree it definitely wasn’t the best thing but, you know, outraged might be a bit extreme,” says SMU student Ryan LeBlanc.
“I am glad to hear that such a majority is upset about it,” says SMU student Danielle Cable.
“I’m glad that the attention has been drawn to it. I don’t think it’s so bad that we’re the ones being punished for it because at least it’s making the issue known, and hopefully it will create change.”
Canadians who said they were outraged also said the students involved should have to complete sensitivity training; many of them already have.
“The first part is really talking about civility, respect and what that means, what those words mean and what role they play as leaders on campus,” says Keith Hotchkiss, the director of SMU student services.
Ipsos Reid surveyed 800 Canadians for the poll. English-speaking Canadians were shown the script so they could read what was said, while the chants were described to French-speaking Canadians.
Wright says seeing the script provoked an emotion in many Canadians from coast to coast.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kayla Hounsell