Nichole Fanara
The Silhouette

I read once that opinions articles should encompass all the possibilities of the issue at hand and express all the potential of the future. But I also believe that the capital, the system, should always be questioned, should question itself, and ultimately, be accountable for its actions.

So here I want to make McMaster University accountable for suspending the Engineering group called “Redsuits” from Welcome Week 2014 by telling my personal welcome week story from my first year four years ago.

I came to McMaster University in September 2010. I was (and still am) a proud off-campus commuter from Hamilton, and alongside joining SOCS, I looked to my faculty to inspire school spirit within me. Unfortunately I did not find a home within the Humanities reps. I found them off-putting because I felt that they did not care. I have seen tremendous attempts by the Humanities reps to change (and I believe they are only going to get better) but four years ago, their reps were not inspired to engage with the first years (or at least, I did not meet the ones who were). So on faculty night, a fellow Hummmer and I went with our Engineering friends to their faculty night.

Now, faculty nights are traditionally off-campus, and as unofficial off-campus rules go, cheers can be sung that are not allowed on campus. I was not told anything about the Engineers having a dirty songbook. My Eng friends did not have access to a handbook that said “Prepare yourself for the scandal.” On campus during the week, we had seen their superheros running around with plungers, we even heard a rumor that their reps drink beer (all the reps?! Aren’t they, like, 20 years old?). So we were prepared for a fun night out, meeting reps and fellow first years.  And then we got onto a bus. And that is when the truth came out about the Redsuits.

Reps came up to me, talked to me, tried to get to know me, my interests, what classes to take and profs to watch out for. The Engineers made me feel so accepted and included in ways my own faculty didn’t that I will always remember that night as a real welcoming to academia. It was the most amazing feeling to come to a new place and have people actually care that you are a person, not some firstie. I cannot say that for more than half of the classes I have attended at this school. But I can say that for the Engineers.

McMaster University is making a huge mistake in suspending the Engineers from Welcome Week 2014. The MSU is only backing them up because they have to. And the other faculty groups should take a stand against this if the Engineers are banned from participation. That group has the most fun and offers great help and support to so many young adults coming into school. If they are banned from Welcome Week, then I am ashamed McMaster cannot understand the great social impact they have versus the stupidity of a few students to publish such profanity.

Those cheers have been around since at least the 1980’s. Every rep group has cheers that are dirty, that go back to our parents’ time, and are not sung. They come out at reunions, sometimes off campus. But the fact that they exist within every group means that the Engineers are being persecuted for – quite literally – the sins of our parents.

The Redsuits as a whole do so much good that it is completely uncalled for the University to punish them all.

Long live the Redsuits.





  1. You cant say theyre being punished for the sins of their parents when the book was clearly dated 2010.
    Some of the reps you talked to on that bus may have been involved in creating the book.

    Can we for real let mac finish its investigation before we start throwing this kind of flak at the university?

    Youre complaining that eng redsuits are the suspect in an investigation! How else can we punish the guilty parties if there isnt an investigation? ?

    1. The university didn’t wait to finish it’s investigation before handing out a faculty-wide punishment, so why should we wait to criticize their reaction?

      Also, unless any of the reps on that bus were in their 40’s, I doubt they “created” the book. There is a big difference between editing a 20-30 year old document and putting your name on it, and creating a document from scratch.

      Speaking of the names in that book, nobody seems keen to discuss the fact that three of the four names labelled (2010) are first year students who could not have been redsuits at the time. The fourth is a second year student so it would be their first year as a redsuit. Hardly representative of the redsuits as a whole, and even less so the engineering student body as a whole.

      Try saving your indignation for the first and second year students who are being punished for something they had no knowledge or involvement with, the university deserves a little flak.

    2. Last time I checked JR, they have already been punished WITHOUT a due investigation. Our formal was made dry, our reps have been suspended from participating next year, and many of our community are being discriminated on the streets and business in the community.

      Additionally, 2009-2010 last time I looked was 5 years ago and none of the people outlined in the book are here anymore. Why stop there, why dont we go back to the Brandon Hall fire 6 years ago and ban every student in Brandon since then until now for creating a culture where one idiot starts a fire. Just food for thought…

  2. As a Commerce Graduate who worked with Eng. Management students on Commerce group projects, I’m not surprised they messed up their references.

    My soft-cover copy of Dune was printed in 1990, but the book was originally written and published in 1965. These Engineering cheers have been around for just as long.

    I’d also like to add that I never heard the S&M Man sung by any Engineer, and that every faculty used to sing “Orgies make the world go round” back in my day.

    Alex McColl
    Hons Bachelor of Commerce – 2008

  3. ^^ JR – The book was only compiled in 2010 ! the contents age back to the 1970s-1980s ..

    cauz of 5 engineering students, who werent redsuits (at least not redsuits when they wrote the book) , cauz of their mistake, blame 120 enthusiastic engineering rep. Myself, as a humanities rep, look up to the engineering reps and the ways they have their frosh always so engaged.

  4. The guilty parties have been punished. They have been announced / labelled as sexist, racist, etc, and they are referred to and known as such across Ontario and Canada. I have recently attended conferences and events external to McMaster, at which I was asked about affiliation with the songbook, by students and professionals.

    jr, you make the plea: “Can we for real let mac finish its investigation before we start throwing this kind of flak at the university?”

    I would like to to turn that question back around: Could we have had any degree of investigation before throwing flak at all engineering students, rather than the few who were literally named in the document?

  5. The fact is, McMaster had/has a PR situation that had to be dealt with immediately. Realistically McMaster as a business and hopefully we as students want to be able to uphold a reputation as a school, ideally one that is not associated with the ideas written in the book, as well as one that doesn’t do anything about such ideas theoretically being perpetuated. It sucks that the redsuits (so far, things can change) will not be able to participate in welcome week next year. but firstly, it’s not forever, and secondly, there are many other outlets for first years, it just won’t be the same as yours.

  6. “_Pending the outcome of an investigation_, all non-academic MES events that involve alcohol have been cancelled.”

    The fact of the matter is that the book exists, it was compiled recently, and it is really, really repugnant in the context of a university student group’s chant.

    How do you know the outcome isn’t going to lead to a statement exonerating the MES?

    This is a reason for us all to change for the better.

    If you find this a reason to rail against the university for its tyrannical bureaucracy, good for you. Don’t forget that by not explicitly condemning the book, you’re committed to the essence of condoning it.

    It’s stupid, but when it comes to these kind of things, it’s all about the reaction. Social justice warriors will see any negative reaction as part of the same force that spurred the “rape culture” on in the first place. I think Mac Eng needs to look to the university slogan; Forward with Integrity. Move on from the rugby chants into something better, like you already have been.

    The complaint that it slanders your name is a righteous one, though. I understand that. However, what does it really change? Wasn’t there already a clear culture change in Mac Eng in the last couple years?

    What it changes is that now, every single Mac Eng student and rep knows straight from the MES “that these attitudes will not be tolerated within the MES”. There is now a clear and strong basis upon which those attitudes will not be tolerated.

  7. Everyone seems to be missing the point here. Of course it is not fair that the entire Redsuits got punished, of course it is not fair that this is giving all engineering students a bad rep. BUT the point is these sexual, racist and derogatory remarks were made and were made readily available (regardless if they haven’t been used). Inequality and rape culture has to be dealt with harshly. Yes it sucks that this affects more than the parties at fault but the university is doing the right thing by hard lining this situation.

    1. The person who decided to publish these chants made them more readily available than the people who compiled the book did, since no one knew of its existence until she decided to upload it to the internet.

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