15 Mar 2017

Wellington College students suspended for rape comments

5:58 pm on 15 March 2017

Two students who posted online about having sex with unconscious girls have been suspended from their high school.

Wellington College

Wellington College Photo: Facebook - Wellington College

Wellington College said this afternoon the two boys have been suspended for five days, had any leadership responsibilities withdrawn and would be barred from any sport tournaments or cultural competitions.

They were ordered to make personal apologies.

They would also do community work over the next few months, and would undertake education about consent and healthy relationships, the school said.

The two students described having sex with intoxicated, passed-out women in their posts to a closed Facebook group, with some of the comments 'liked' by other students.

One of the comments said: "If you don't take advantage of a drunk girl, you're not a true WC boy."

The comments were also seen by other students who were so concerned about them, they notified parents.

Female students at Wellington high schools organised a protest against rape culture in response to the comments, with hundreds showing up outside Parliament on Monday afternoon.

In a statement, the school's board of trustees said it did not usually release details of disciplinary action but had made an exception because of the public attention the boys' actions had drawn.

"We have been unequivocal with these students and the rest of the school that the views expressed online last week have no place in our school or our community," the board said.

"The school will continue to strengthen our existing education programmes on healthy relationships and consent.

"These have been in place for more than a year but we know we can do better. We are also going to be working with our parent community because it is clear that everyone has an important part to play in keeping everyone safe."

The school was withholding some details of the action taken against the boys because they were under 18, the statement said.

"This decision is consistent with the school philosophy of working with our students and their families wherever possible to support them to make positive changes that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.

The boys' apologies

Apology from Student 1

"To everyone concerned I am so sorry for saying what I did.

"It was an error of judgement and I was stupid for saying it. It was meant to be a joke (stupid thing to say) that I shouldn't have said and I wasn't being serious at all.

"I feel really bad for making that comment. I would apologise myself to all the people it has affected but I don't know who they all are.

"I have learned a lot over the last week and I hope others can learn from what I did and don't do it.

"It is a really destructive attitude that leads to these sort of comments and I don't want others to make the same mistake as me because it hurts lots of people and it is not OK under any circumstances to write and say what I did, or to joke about it."

Apology from Student 2

"I want to give my sincerest apologies to the Wellington College School, the Wellington College Community, the Principal and students, my family and all those I offended.

"The actions I took on Facebook last Sunday night have been detrimental to everyone associated with the school and the wider community.

"What I said was completely out of line and I deeply regret saying it.

"Many people have talked to me about what I did. I certainly didn't think about that and I have learnt about how important it is not to do what I did.

"I know what I did was wrong and I would like to say sorry to all those who were offended by my actions. And I hope others learn from my experience and don't post messages like the one I posted."

No compulsory consent education in schools - Education Minister

People at Monday's protest asked the government to bolster sex education in schools to make sure it included discussion about sexual consent.

Today, Education Minister Hekia Parata ruled out introducing compulsory education around sexual consent in high schools, saying the subject was best addressed in a family setting.

Ms Parata said the issue was a conversation for parents to have with their children, and schools had the freedom to supplement the pupils' education if they wanted to.