Engineering jokes no laughing matter at U of Regina
By Sara Marett
Engineering students at the University of Regina have found themselves in hot water after complaints that jokes in a published newsletter were sexist.
The Rat's Nest, a newsletter published by Regina's Engineering Students' Society, printed several jokes in its November issue, one reading, "What do you tell a woman with two black eyes? Nothing, you've already told her twice."
"It was an accident it was a cut and paste job done close to deadline and they just slipped by," said Rat's Nest publication director Ryan Bird, a first-year engineering student who was responsible for editing the issue of the newsletter. He admitted the jokes made violence against women a laughable subject but said that the final outcome of the situation will be a positive one.
Bird explained the newsletter now has an editorial board made up of four people who will proofread the paper before it is published to ensure the content is appropriate. "We've written an apology and taken care of the situation it will never happen again."
As a result of the printed jokes, the newsletter lost its funding from the Students' Union for the fall semester. "It was a direct violation of our rules which state the paper must not contain anything sexist, racist or libelous," said Students' Union President Marjorie Brown.
The controversy also impacted a fund-raiser for the Canadian Diabetes Association which was supposed to be held by the Engineering Students' Society. The association ran an advertisement on the front page of the newsletter for the fund-raiser, but when members of the association saw the content of the paper, they cancelled the event.
"In our opinion, the content of the newsletter promoted violence against women and we do not wish to be associated with this kind of attitude," said Christine Smillie, executive director for the Canadian Diabetes Association in Saskatchewan.
Brown added the $325 in funds which were revoked from the Engineering Students' Society were given to the association as compensation for the event not taking place.
Tammy Trudgen, coordinator for the Women's Centre on campus, who will sit on the newly formed editorial board for the newsletter, said the centre received many complaints about the content of the paper. "We do not support the misogynist comments but are pleased something is being done about it," she said.
But for Brown, the issue goes beyond just a few jokes. "This type of comment is representative of a certain attitude that seems to exist amongst engineering students, not just on our campus but others in Canada as well," she said. After making this comment when the incident occurred, several female engineering students asked Brown for an apology, claiming she was stereotyping engineers' behaviour.
"I will not apologize there is nothing to apologize about," she said.
However, Elise Pare, president of Western's Undergraduate Engineering Society, disagreed with Brown's comments and said this type of stereotypical behaviour among engineers does not exist at Western.