McMaster in the news

Happy Friday!

We are cooking up a storm at school today – we are making vegetable soup, grilled cheese and cream puffs. The students really like cooking Friday’s and I like turning all the ovens on so the room gets warm for once.

This weekend I am running my first race of 2014 – MEC Race #1 – The Cold One. It is being held at the Rideau Carleton Raceway. We have access to the inside before the race and after, so hopefully we won’t spend too much time standing around outside. Hot chocolate will be served after the race, and apparently we get a discount at the brunch buffet afterwards. Sweet!  No set goals for this race other than a sub-30 time. Just running a race to stay in the game.


Yesterday my alma mater was in the news. I attended McMaster University in Hamilton for my undergrad in the social sciences faculty. While there I participated in ‘Welcome Week’ as a Welcome Week Rep, as well as a planner in my third year. Welcome Week is the same thing as frosh week – the week before classes starts there are lots of activities for incoming first years including bed racing (you race a “bed” down the main street), pajama parades (first years go on a parade in the PJ’s – FUNNY), dances/bar nights (bar nights stopped when the majority of incoming students were underage) and other assorted fun things.

Welcome Week Reps come in three forms: Residence Reps who are like your cruise directors for the week. They are the ones attached to a floor of a residence building (2 per floor usually) or part of the off-campus society. They are with the undergrads for most of the week. The second major group is the faculty reps: Engineering (Red Suits), Social Science (Blue Suits), Science (black lab coats), Nurses (Pink Suits if I remember?? They are yellow – Thanks for the reminder PV) and all the others.  We all wear our ‘colours’ for the week and participate in Faculty Day and Faculty Night – but when I was there we also started dabbling in other events like the bed races (we raced a shopping cart……). There is also a third group, the Maroons who wear Maroon suits who are not only involved with Welcome Week, but also with general spirit activities throughout the year.

I was a Maroon for most of 1st and 2nd year – I had a maroon suit and went to all the football games with them. In But for Welcome week, I was a Blue Suit. I was just a rep in the 2nd and 4th years of undergrad – but I was the lead planner for social sciences in my third year. Planning Welcome Week was an experience. The University did become more involved with what we were planning and had a whole pile of rules that we had to abide by. The biggest change in 2004 was that WW was to be dry – which meant we had to really thing of something new for Faculty Night which used to mean “go to a local drinking establishment night”. We were also told absolutely no hazing or other forms of initiation. But – there were still some things that happened that did not necessarily break any rules – one of them being how the Red Suits (Engineers) would make fun of pretty much every one else, especially the Social Science and Humanities students. One year they put a giant spatula in the Arts Quad since apparently we were all going to flip burgers after university.

Yesterday, McMaster banned the Red Suits from 2014 Welcome Week as well as any official school functions. Why? Because they had a songbook that had songs that we extremely offensive. I have not seen the songbook yet, but apparently there are songs about rape, having sex with underage people, extreme violence and basically everything and anything offensive.

For the record – during my time at McMaster I never heard one of these songs being sung by the Red Suits. Yes – they would openly tell us how dumb we were and how our degrees were worthless. They would joke around about hooking up with the Nurses, aka “the only other faculty that works hard”. Sure, they would bring out a giant spatula and wave it in front of us – then putting it in the art’s quad in such a way that made it very hard to get down.

But that was it. It was all in good fun and we would dish out some insults too.

Apparently the song book does exist as my friends who are Engineers said that they have seen it. It has been a number of years since I’ve attended Mac, so things could have become quite a bit worse. Another point is that because these songs were never sung in public, many did not know they existed, including members of the Engineering Society (who are pretty much the main student organizing body of Engineering/Red Suits). The overall number of people who knew about the book may have been very small.

Because of a few wrong students and some awful songs – Welcome Week at McMaster is going to be very different this year. Although I would agree that the creation and writing down of these songs is very, very wrong – I think the punishment was a bit harsh. Yes – something needed to be done. Why people write this kind of stuff is mind boggling. For students who are supposed to be very smart – this was a pretty dumb thing to do. But, what really bothers me is that the incoming first year Engineering students are going to have a different WW than everyone else. They are being punished for something that they did not do. Yes – they will still have a WW and Faculty Day, but without Red Suits – which will make them different than anyone else.


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1 Comment

  1. Kristi

    Good luck on Sunday! Wish I didn’t have such a crazy weekend (that includes report cards – ughh), I would have liked to go too. looking forward to hearing about it.


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