In response to Sauder rape cheer scandal earlier this year, the university undertook a massive internal investigation. The president of the university and other administrators made public appearances to condemn what happened. A task force was formed to look into “systemic problems” at UBC.
This was all done over a song.
The university needs to respond as robustly to the recent sexual assaults as they did to the Sauder FROSH events. They need to show they’re as serious about stopping any more women from being assaulted as they are about stopping any more first-years from hearing an offensive cheer.
There’s a tendency in the academic world to embrace attempts to tackle the complex and deep-seated problems in society. The rape cheer fell into that category, at least to the extent that pundits — and eventually administrators like UBC President Stephen Toope — saw it as a demonstration of society’s moral rot.
Fairly or not, the cheer was seen as evidence that our upstanding young people, our world’s future leaders, were behaving like vulgar misogynists.
The university was forced to take on the cheer due in part to the national media attention. But their response can also be seen in the context of academics striving to right a societal wrong.
“I think that we are given an opportunity now to seize this moment, to strike at the casual indifference to sexual violence and intolerance which still marks pockets in our society,” Toope said at the time. He added that the task force would “outline broader actions to support the kind of transformative, robust change we do believe is necessary on university campuses — including our own.”
For Toope, this wasn’t just about a handful of first-years on a bus. This was a chance for the university to lead on one of the pressing issues of our time. But while that might be a fun intellectual exercise for those involved, curriculum tweaks and consent awareness campaigns alone will not destroy rape culture at UBC, and whatever success they do have will be hard to measure.
Here’s something that’s not hard to measure: every weekend since the end of September, at least one woman has been ambushed on campus and violently sexual assaulted. Police have no suspects, nor a clear, public plan to improve security.
There are no deep moral quandaries to face, no changes needed to the curriculum, no earnest soul searching to be done. Everyone agrees that these attacks are wrong, that the person or people behind them are bad and that the correct remedy is to throw them behind bars. Sexual assaults don’t ask “big” questions of the university.
If an offensive cheer about sexual violence warranted hiring new full-time staff and creating a task force, what does the actual violent assault of student warrant?”
But here’s a question: how much money is UBC willing to devote to hiring new security personnel, or to issuing a report on how to improve security on campus? How much money is UBC willing to devote to installing better lighting or more blue emergency phones around campus?
The university had the Commerce Undergraduate Society pledge aquarter of a million dollars to fight unclear “systemic issues” following the rape cheer. That money is going to, among other things, hiring a new professional position with a similarly unclear job description.
If an offensive cheer about sexual violence warranted hiring new full-time staff and creating a task force led by the VP students, what does the actual violent assault of more than three students warrant?
It’s time for the university to show that they take these actual assaults as seriously as they took the rape cheer — even if the assaults lack the attractive intellectual questions, and even if the national media isn’t breathing down their neck.
The ball is in the administrators’ court. It’s time to make campus safe again.
Edited by canuckbeliever, 21 October 2013 - 11:45 PM.