If you know anything about some of the crazy traditions that popular Canadian universities such as the University of Toronto and Queens carry out every year, you're probably aware of the bizarre tradition of dying engineering students bright purple. However, this ongoing tradition is now being questioned after Health Canada released a statement that gentian violet purple dye was linked to cancer risk. This is the same dye that is used in this ritual at several schools. Now, universities across Canada are trying to come up with alternatives when it comes to this engineering ritual.
Last month, Health Canada released a warning that gentian violet products have a potential risk of causing cancer. In the statement, Health Canada warns that this purple product, which is commonly used in veterinary drugs or for wounds and oral teething on humans, should no longer be used due to the risks.
However, it was just recently that universities like Queen's in Kingston, Ontario have announced that this product is also used in the purple dye that is used while dying students during frosh week. The Queen University Journal released a statement this week informing students and staff that the dye they use during every homecoming contains this dangerous gentian violet.
Queens, U of T, and Ryerson, among others, are all known for their infamous tradition of dying their engineers in kiddie pools full of purple dye as a way to welcome them to the program. With hundreds of students participating in this tradition every year across Canada, it's clear that most university students in engineer programs across Canada have come in contact with this dangerous product.
Queen University has informed its students that due to the health warning that has been issued by the government, the university will no longer endorse the use of gentian violet in the future.
Engineering Society President of Queens, Delaney Benoit states that they are "currently researching alternatives" for this popular tradition, yet no new solutions have been released.
However, since the manufacture of the product has voluntarily stopped making the product throughout Canada and the license has been canceled, it looks like all universities throughout Canada are going to have to come up with a new tradition.
Ben Musci, who oversees the engineers orientation at U of T also told CTV News that this popular university will also follow the Health Canada guidelines when it comes to the use of this product.