UBC officials are promising to work with students to conduct a "thorough investigation" into reports of a chant by Sauder School of Business students that allegedly promoted underage rape.
"This is of grave concern to all members of the UBC community," Sauder school dean Robert Helsley and UBC vice president students Louise Cowin declared in a statement. "Such behaviour would be completely inconsistent with the values of UBC and the Sauder School of Business and completely inconsistent with the instruction that the Commerce Undergraduate Society receives on appropriate conduct prior to FROSH."
The UBC Commerce Undergraduate Society has already promised to take "all feasible steps going forward to ensure all unacceptable behaviour is fully eradicated from our orientation events".
Ubyssey reporter Arno Rosenfeld discovered a tweet, which claimed the chant said: “Y-O-U-N-G at UBC we like em young Y is for yourrr sister O is for ohh so tight U is for under age N is for noo consent G is for goo to jail.”
It was remarkably similar to a chant during FROSH week at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, which led to the resignation of the student-society president.
The statement by the Sauder school dean and UBC vice president pointed out that UBC's student code of conduct calls for all members of the university community to act "in a manner that contributes positively to an environment in which respect, civility, diversity, opportunity, and inclusivity are valued".
The trouble has erupted at UBC just as B.C.'s second-largest postsecondary institution, Simon Fraser University, has launched a major 50th-anniversary fundraising campaign.
"Philanthropy has propelled SFU over the past 50 years," SFU president Andrew Petter has declared as part of his pitch to raise $250 million.
It's not a stretch to suggest that UBC fundraising officials—who will have to compete for philanthropic donations with SFU—aren't happy with the timing of the Sauder School of Business controversy.
In tough economic times, universities are increasingly reliant on donations to finance capital expenditures and bursaries. This is particularly true in the United States, but it's become a bigger issue in B.C., particularly after the Christy Clark government's recent cut to the budget for advanced education.
Keep in mind that the Sauder School of Business has been the beneficiary of numerous large donations, including $20 million from the Sauder family and $5 million from real-estate developer Robert H. Lee.
Image is crucial in the fundraising game, especially when there's so much competition out there. And it's not just coming from SFU.
Emily Carr University of Art + Design is trying to raise $21 million to fund a new campus being built at False Creek Flats. The province has promised $113 million for this project if the fundraising goal is met.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University has also emerged as a rival, raising $12 million last year from lululemon, its founder Chip Wilson, and his wife Shannon. That was matched by the university and the provincial government to fund a new school of design named after the Wilsons.
There aren't a lot of head offices like lululemon left in Vancouver. That's another reason why UBC officials must nip this controversy as soon as possible.
Commerce students who were on FROSH week buses and who may have participated in the rape chant are going to learn an important lesson in business if and when the university metes out any punishment.
If the reports are confirmed, students can expect a message to be sent that this must never happen again, not only because it violates the university's code of conduct, but also because of its potential to jeopardize UBC's fundraising prospects.