As frosh week draws to a close, officials from Carleton University are investigating T-shirts worn by some student leaders that have sent mixed messages and angered many in the Ottawa community.
Photos began circulating the first weekend after the start of classes, showing frosh leaders wearing shirts that had “Fuck Safe Space” written on them in all caps.
Carleton’s decade-old Safe Space Program is “designed to reduce homophobia and heterosexism on campus,” according to its website.
Many students and community members have accused the students of promoting sexual violence and rape culture.But the frosh leaders are saying the shirts were worn in protest of a no-swearing rule that was part of their orientation week contract.
“The shirts were merely a statement against the coddling of first-year students,” an anonymous frosh organizer told the Charlatan. “Being told that we shouldn’t swear around them in no way helps to ease them into university life. They will be exposed to such language throughout the rest of the year.”
Folarin Odunayo, president of the Carleton Undergraduate Students Association (CUSA), said the shirts “have nothing to do” with the student union and that “CUSA will continue to abide by the university’s safe space policy.”
The Graduate Student Association of Carleton also issued a statement saying they were “appalled” to hear about the offensive T-shirts.
“To frame this as an isolated and ‘off-campus’ incident is to fail to recognize the systemic problems these shirts serve to perpetuate,” said the statement.
Carleton University media relations officer Christopher Cline sent the student apology to media.
“While our intentions were not to harm or disrespect anyone, the T-shirts in question were without a doubt inappropriate, inconsiderate, offensive, and disgraceful,” the apology states.
“Intent is not an excuse for impact and we take full responsibility for the seriousness of our actions.”
The university is currently contemplating the appropriate punishment.
This comes a few days after a Carleton student was charged with three counts of sexual assault.