HALIFAX - In the cool air of Tuesday morning, Daren Miller leaned his two degrees from Saint Mary’s University against the fence around the former Halifax Infant’s Home and walked away.
Miller, a chartered financial analyst living in Calgary, flew to Halifax to return his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Commerce degrees to Saint Mary’s in the wake of a pro-rape chant caught on video during frosh week.
Hundreds of first-year students were led in a chant spelling out “young,” with lines like, “u is for underage, n is for no consent.”
Saint Mary’s registrar Paul Dixon greeted Miller and accepted the degrees after they were placed against the fence.
“I feel very sad having done it. It represented five years of extremely hard work,” said Miller, who graduated in 1995.
The degrees will also be removed from his resume, Miller said, because he wanted to distance himself from the culture of misogyny at the university.
Miller called for Saint Mary’s president Colin Dodds to step down on Tuesday, and have the school hire someone with experience handling “damaged reputations” because a culture shift can only happen with “change at the top.”
“The university respects his right to protest,” said university spokesperson Steve Proctor, who added Miller had turned down Dodd’s invitation of a private meeting.
Miller said despite his own feelings, turning over the degrees was also to stand with those who feel “marginalized” at Saint Mary’s, and with victims of sexual abuse across the country.
“For me, this will go away,” Miller said. “For … someone who has been abused, that will live with them their entire lives.”
Miller said he is “under no illusion” that rape jokes and sexist behavior are just a Halifax problem.
“My idea of Canada does not include this rape culture. I was absolutely shocked to see something like this is 2013,” Miller said. “I think men need to understand, particularly on a campus scene, that no means no.”