The University of British Columbia announced today comprehensive measures to address a chant endorsing rape and sexual violence during Commerce Undergraduate Society FROSH events for first-year students of the Sauder School of Business, held the week of September 3rd 2013.
The University’s decision is based on the report of its fact-finding panel, indicating there is no evidence C.U.S. leaders planned and directed others to use the rape chant. However, the report concluded that this and other offensive chants were a C.U.S. oral tradition, no C.U.S. leader intervened to stop anyone from using offensive chants, and the vast majority of first-year students attending the C.U.S. FROSH events would have been exposed to the rape chant. The report also concludes that some C.U.S. FROSH activities were inappropriately sexualized.
“After serious consideration, we believe it is essential that the C.U.S. and all FROSH leaders make tangible amends,” said UBC President and Vice-Chancellor Stephen Toope. “At the same time, the whole UBC community needs to embark upon deeper, transformative and lasting change that would make such chants entirely and obviously unacceptable in our community.”
Measures announced by Prof. Toope, Vice President, Students Louise Cowin and Sauder School of Business Dean Robert Helsley address three broad areas: holding accountable the student leaders who were involved in this year’s C.U.S. FROSH events, supporting robust education and change efforts at the Sauder School of Business and across the entire University, and restoring the community’s trust.
Specifically, a voluntary contribution of $250,000 over three years from the C.U.S. with additional resources from the University will fund a professional position to provide student counseling and education on sexual abuse and violence. The president has also appointed Cowin to lead a task force to design broader measures to address deeper systemic and organizational issues.
“We all need to be involved – those who made serious mistakes and misjudgments, and those who didn’t,” said Prof. Toope. “UBC is seizing this moment to strike at the violence, sexualization and discrimination that still lurks below the surface in pockets of our society.”
Louise Cowin, Vice President Students
“UBC is committed to addressing these issues head on. While we deeply regret this happened, I embrace the opportunity this provides to work with faculty experts and community groups to bring about long-term change.”
Robert Helsley, Dean, Sauder School of Business
“I am deeply concerned by the events of the past weeks. The reported events are completely inconsistent with the values of the Sauder School of Business and UBC. I am committed to taking steps to ensure this will not happen again and that all students will feel safe and welcome when they begin their studies.”
Detailed UBC measures supporting three goals:
Enhancing responsibility and accountability
- All 81 C.U.S. FROSH leaders, as well as the FROSH Executive Committee , C.U.S. Board of Directors and Executive Council members will participate in community service
- The Sauder School of Business and the C.U.S. will implement structural changes to ensure student well-being and inclusivity are part of future C.U.S. events
- In addition, four C.U.S. leaders have already resigned
Restoring community trust
- The C.U.S. will issue a public apology and indicate steps they are taking to create a positive, inclusive environment at UBC
- C.U.S. pledges to make a voluntary contribution of $250,000 to fund professional counselling support services and education
- C.U.S. leaders are participating in training around sexual violence
Education and culture change
- Sauder School of Business faculty are developing curricular changes, engaging students to provide leadership in promoting safe, inclusive and respectful environments
- Sauder will introduce new broad-based student leadership training
- Sauder will no longer support C.U.S. FROSH
- UBC will establish a task force to integrate faculty expertise and community resources to address broader cultural issues related to violence and sexualization.