TORONTO (Reuters Life!) - The University of Toronto’s last all-male residence, famed for inspiring the 1978 comedy “Animal House,” is going coed after years of “flagrant acts of defiance,” the president of its governing college said.
Gate House is notorious for its “frat-boy” traditions and stunts such as toga parties, streaking, hazing rituals and wild beer bashes. Dorm members recently placed a cooked pig’s head in a women’s washroom.
One of the ivy-covered stone buildings of the school’s Victoria University, Gate House, built in 1913, will accept new male and female residents next term.
“Continued behavior reasonably seen as disparaging and demeaning of women will not be tolerated and must be met with firm response on the part of the university,” said Victoria University President Paul Gooch in a statement, referring in part to a 2.5-metre (8-foot) penis fashioned out of snow in November.
The first-year student responsible for the sculpture, Grayson Lee, said the stunts were not meant to offend.
“Many people walked by me as I was building it and I didn’t get a single disgusted look. Everyone started laughing as they walked away,” the 18-year-old told Reuters.
“The pranks we do are all intended to be spirit-raising,” Lee said. “We’re known for being the ‘House of Brotherhood’... We were, at least.”
The 28 students who have had to relocate are heartbroken over the decision, which comes during winter exams, he said.
Victoria University, whose students are two-thirds female, has held about 50 meetings with individuals complaining about Gate House since the start of this year alone, Jason Hunter, the dean of students, said.
“The story is more that this residence has existed as long as it has than the fact that the all-male environment is being removed as a living option,” he said.
As to why Gate House been such a problem over the years, Hunter said: “We end up putting a lot of students there who didn’t request to live there, but I think once they move in there is sort of this covert set of expectations and activities that take place that are passed on from generation to generation.”
Gate House alumni include Canadian Nobel Peace Prize winner and late Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson.
Actor Donald Sutherland lived in neighboring South House. Sutherland co-starred with John Belushi in “Animal House” and his memories of Gate House toga parties are said to have inspired the film.
Reporting by Claire Sibonney; Editing by Peter Galloway and Jeffrey Jones