VANCOUVER – Two student executives with the University of British Columbia’s commerce undergraduate society have quit and the society’s annual frosh orientation will end after students at the Sauder School of Business took part in a chant that appeared to endorse rape.
President Enzo Woo said in a news release Wednesday the performance of the offensive chant at the society’s orientation event on the Labour Day weekend should never have happened.
He said the fact the chant is tradition isn’t an excuse and doesn’t make the offence less serious.
“I am deeply remorseful at what has transpired. It would be naive to think that these problems can be solved overnight, but we have an opportunity moving forward to institute a culture of recovery and acceptance,” Woo said.
“I hope that my resignation can serve as the crucial first step in this process and I can help heal the community that has been an enormous positive influence in my life.”
Gillian Ong, the society’s vice-president of engagement, has also quit, saying she hopes the society is now free and clear to implement changes.
“In order to best aid in the rebuilding of our student community after these events, I recognize that as a responsible student leader I must step down to allow the society to implement the changes that it needs to create a positive, inclusive environment for all students.”
The same chant was recited at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, prompting the resignation of the president of the student association there.
Earlier this week, the university’s dean of commerce pulled his support for the society’s frosh week events.
Robert Helsley, dean of the Sauder School of Business, said Monday he and Louise Cowin, vice-president of students, have launched an investigation into the incident and a fact-finding team is expected to report back by Sept. 16.
Faculty will also increase the emphasis on issues such as respect, dignity and ethics in their curriculum, he said.
“This has come to be interpreted as a blanket indictment of the Sauder School of Business and its students, and that is just not true,” Helsley said Monday.
Frosh events are run by commerce undergraduates, but Helsley said the school has traditionally supported them by providing technical support and guidance and even writing invitations.
In the news release Wednesday, the student society outlined a series of initiatives aimed at atonement for the chant.
The UBC commerce undergraduate society said it will end its annual frosh orientation event and will ensure the Sauder School of Business and UBC administrators sign off on activities to allow students to participate in a safe, comfortable university environment.
Commerce student leaders will undergo anti-violence training by the university’s sexual assault support centre and there will be a roundtable discussion to discuss the anger the chant may have caused.
The news release says UBC’s commerce undergraduate society is among the largest business school student societies in Canada.