ECA Adopts “More Enforceable Ban” On Disrespectful Chants

Council Creates School Spirit Committee to Oversee New Songbook Creation

Graphic Graeme Shorten Adams

Following the controversy over “sexist, violent, and degrading” chants sometimes sung at engineering events, the Engineering and Computer Science Association created a Student Spirit Committee at its council meeting Monday night mandated to make a songbook “free of crudeness and obscenity.”

“I think it’s really important that we start this culture change and embrace the diversity of our undergraduate population,” said ECA president Antonin Picou.

The motion adopted Monday is “a more comprehensive and enforceable ban” than the original motion brought to council Feb. 10, according to Picou.

The ECA president worked with the original authors of the Feb. 10 motion—Kate Bellini of the National Society of Black Engineers; Melissa Nielsen, president of Women In Engineering at Concordia; and Keena Trowell, co-president of Engineers without Borders—as well as former ECA VP Finance Chuck Wilson to develop the motion adopted by council on Monday.

The ECA is the first student association in Quebec not already mired by controversy to adopt a ban on disrespectful chants as a preventative measure, according to multiple ECA members, if not all of Canada.

The new motion is more broad and, rather than banning the chants themselves, it bans their content, Bellini told council.

By prohibiting students from engaging in any disrespectful displays, council members expressed hope to instead foster a broader culture of inclusivity in the engineering department.

“It’s more of the whole culture of respect that we’re wanting to promote [so we are] changing the culture as a whole and moving towards something better in the future,” said Picou.

“The bigger picture definitely is, we want our students to feel like they can come to our events and be safe at our events and we really want to make that first step as a university in Canada.

“We definitely think it’s possible to change and move in this direction that a lot of people maybe had doubts about in the first place, and I think that was reflected tonight in the vote that was completely different from the last [council meeting],” he continued.

On a lighter note, the council broke into one chant free of crudeness and obscenity after the motion passed. The Canadian Federation of Engineering Students—which includes the ECA—is putting together a spoof video of the song ‘I love the whole world’ made famous by the Discovery Channel, featuring engineering students across the country.

At the end of the meeting, the council members gave a Concordia-only rendition, chanting chorus ‘boom de yada, boom de yada’ in unison to the camera live streaming the meeting.

The ECA is also reaching out to have others embrace its non-controversial student spirit platform.

The “motion for the promotion of a culture of respect” was unanimously adopted March 9 by the Quebec Confederation for Engineering Student Outreach, the regional Quebec-level body that brings together engineering student associations. Picou and VP External Jonathan Ladouceur brought forward the motion to QCESO.

As for Monday’s adopted motion, Picou says it’s an important first for the ECA.

“I think that this is a really important matter and that moving forward we made a big step today and can really set an example,” he said.