The UCS BizFrosh debate


Dear UTM,

It appears that the moral of the BizFrosh story has been lost in a web of contextual confusion and buried underneath the rubble of false analogy. While it is still possible to unearth this moral and even rescue its valuable meaning, we must agree to prevent our emotionality from hijacking our objective reasoning. We must agree to be unbiased and constructive.

It would be tempting to conclude that the Undergraduate Commerce Society (UCS) is made up of a bunch of sexually hyper, morally bankrupt individuals. This conclusion offers a simple and elegant explanation for the viscerally disgusting nature of the chants that the UCS allegedly propagated during BizFrosh. Indeed, many people have not only arrived at this conclusion, but further, are unwilling to accept an alternative explanation. In my opinion, this position is blatantly ignorant and stinks of hypocrisy. If you would not appreciate being written off as devoid of moral fiber on the basis of one, two or even ten really big screw-ups, then neither would the UCS.

So then, what would qualify as an alternative explanation? What is it that possessed the student leaders of the UCS to not only permit these chants, but to also encourage them?

To start, 72 per cent of individuals polled consider this BizFrosh fiasco to be blown out of proportion, and most of the one-hundred plus comments on the article seem to sympathize with the UCS. But wisdom is not always (or even usually) in crowds. Not many centuries ago, there was a worldwide consensus that our planet is flat. Maintaining this view today is not only scientifically indefensible, it may be considered a symptom of insanity. Sometimes, numbers mean nothing.

To prove my point, none of the dozens of comments posted by the proponents of BizFrosh came close to offering a sound justification (or even a legitimate explanation) for why these chants went by uncensored. In fact, I was disturbed to note that most of the arguments seemed to actually distract from an explanation. In their defense, for example, the majority of respondents noted that similar (or worse) chants were allowed by UTMSU during their Orientation Week. In other words, if the UCS is going down, then UTMSU, too, better go down, and harder. This is not only a failed attempt at dodging accountability; it is simply a self-defeating argument. Comparing something bad to something worse does not make the former good. It just makes it less bad.

Another false conclusion was also drawn on the basis of integers. That is, only two students out of two-hundred that attended BizFrosh were disturbed enough to make an issue out of it. Mathematically and statistically, this is an insignificant figure that is not representative of the rest of the attendant population. As such, if these two students didnt like what they heard, they should not have participated.

Inspired by this rationale, I suggest that we eliminate accessibility from our campus, since less than 10 per cent of the UTM population are persons with disabilities. If they do not like that our campus is inaccessible, well, too bad. They should find another University. Why should a significant portion of the tuition fees of the majority go towards accommodating the special needs of the minority? I hope it is clear to the reader that to pursue this line of reasoning, at the very mildest, is to satiate selfishness at the expense of starving inclusivity.

So what is the reconciliation for all of this? I believe we have been pointing the finger of blame in the wrong direction. The problem is not in the students of the UCS, for I am sure most of them are genuinely good people who exercised terrible judgment. The true problem lies in a naïve system that arms unsupervised students with power and resources they are neither experienced nor mature enough to handle, yet this very system (foolishly) raises an eyebrow when things go sour. This is not to undermine the intelligence of the students at the UCS, who should know better than to laze their intellectual muscle in light of tradition. No one has a say in what traditions they inherit. But to blindly adopt tradition without careful scrutinizing it is to close one eye to responsibility and another to critical thought.

One wonders how many long-held traditions they would embarrassedly discard if they were to merely question them.


Mohammed Ashour