A protest set up by three Wellington high schools against New Zealand rape culture saw hundreds march from Parliament to Civic Square in Wellington last Monday.
The protest comes as a result of offensive comments made recently by high school students at Wellington College surfaced on Facebook.
The comments included one student stating, “if you don’t take advantage of a drunk girl, you’re not a true WC [Wellington College] boy,” while another simply replied, “fuck women”.
NZUSA issued a media release stating that they would stand in solidarity with the protestors from Wellington East Girls’ College, Wellington Girls’ College and Wellington High School. The secondary school students are protesting to draw attention to the prevalence of attitudes condoning sexual violence and the objectification of women that were expressed following the media attention on the boys.
NZUSA President Jonathan Gee explained that NZUSA chose to support the students because “high school students transition into tertiary education unprepared for what to expect. This includes a lack of education about healthy relationships. We encourage schools to do more to help their students understand why we cannot accept this behaviour.”
The Thursdays in Black (TIB) movement have also levied their weight in support of the protest. National TIB Coordinator Izzy O’Neill said, “rape culture is pervasive in New Zealand society, so we should not view these comments and actions as isolated incidents. Rather, they are representative of a larger problem.”
The unconsented filming of female teachers, which amounted to serious sexual harassment, at St Patrick’s College in Silverstream, Upper Hutt, recently caused the temporary exclusion of four students. The lewd comments and behaviour of these students appears to further highlight the pervasive rape culture that O’Neill mentioned.
Otago University Proctor Dave Scott said that the Student Code of Conduct and Ethical Behaviour of Policy states the University’s clear expectation of how students will treat each other. Scott went on to assure Critic that, “In my experience, students are very respectful of each other … but we take actions that breach the Code very seriously.”