On Nov. 3, a student entered the Bronfman Building Quesada wearing a shirt that read “Newhore 17 Year Olds Only” on the back in permanent marker. The shirt was a team uniform for Hype Week, an annual week-long social event with a prominent focus on drinking, organised by the Management Undergraduate Society (MUS).
Mads Motush, U3 Arts student and floor fellow at Solin Hall, reported the incident to the Dean of Students, Chris Buddle, the MUS Executives, and the Students’ Society of McGill University Equity Committee. McGill and MUS have since begun investigating the misconduct, although the circumstances of the investigations are currently confidential. Word of the incident also circulated throughout social media, sparking discussion of misogyny and rape culture on campus on McGill’s subreddit.
In an interview with The McGill Tribune, Motush explained that he, along with other onlookers at Quesada, felt outraged by the message on the student’s shirt. Motush later posted a photo of the shirt publicly on his personal Facebook page. However, even after reporting the sighting to the university through formal channels, Motush was disappointed by the responses he received, which he felt did not address the culture of Hype Week as a whole.
“I felt that, despite my initial email where I detail how the perpetrator must have felt supported enough by the institution in order to wear that shirt, the email that Chris Buddle sent out really only addressed [the misconduct] as a singular instance,” Motush said. “I felt he should have at least acknowledged the structure of Carnival [and] Hype Week that encourages this type of behaviour.”
According to Vice-President Events of the MUS Yannick Leblanc, the MUS worked with McGill to take action against the student on Nov. 4 after receiving reports from Buddle and Motush. MUS President Alexandre Perron also posted an official statement about the incident, clarifying the Society’s stance on the matter.
“The MUS and the Winter Carnival Committee are committed to ensuring that a culture of respect, tolerance, and inclusivity is upheld in every event that we hold," Perron wrote. “The MUS will continue to review and adapt its policies and implementation of events to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all students involved.”
Buddle noted that his administration has been working closely with all student societies in an attempt to mitigate sexual violence at large social events.
“We have been working with all student societies on a suite of their events, including Frosh, Hype week and others,” Buddle said. “I believe there have been many improvements, including additional training and education. Our goal is to continue to work collaboratively with student societies.”
Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Christopher Manfredi also addressed this incident of misconduct in an email sent to all McGill students on Nov. 13. Manfredi condemned the Hype Week participant for perpetuating misogyny, and encouraged all those with concerns to reach out to McGill’s Office for Sexual Violence Response, Support and Education (O-SVRSE).
According to Bianca Tétrault, Sexual Violence Education advisor at the O-SVRSE, McGill’s organized drinking events are central to any discussions of sexual violence on campus. She recommended ways to prevent this type of misconduct, including educating students on the impact of inappropriate actions, encouraging bystanders to be active, and holding offenders accountable.
“Inappropriate behaviour are not isolated to specific events,” Tetrault said. “Our office strives to work with all different types of groups on campus to address violence in our community, but we do try to give extra attention to the larger groups as we know that when participant numbers rise, there is a higher chance that problems can occur.”
If you are affected by sexual violence or harassment, McGill has resources that you can turn to. You can contact the Sexual Assault Centre of the McGill Students’ Society (SACOMSS) at 514-398-8500 or [email protected] or the Office for Sexual Violence Response, Support, and Education (O-SVRSE) at 514-398-3786 or [email protected].