Wellington College headmaster: sex comments 'real', have 'serious consequences'

Wellington College headmaster says Rape comments are not banter
Wellington College (Facebook)

Wellington College headmaster Roger Moses released an open letter to parents on Friday, addressing the revelation earlier this week that some of the school's students were championing rape in a Facebook group.

In the letter, he announced that the principal of Wellington Girls' College will speak to Wellington College students next week.

One of the posts in the closed Facebook group read: "If you don't take advantage of a drunk girl, you're not a true Wc boy."

Mr Moses applauded the students who alerted the school's management to the problem, and called out students who liked the comments or did nothing.

"I am appalled at the attitudes of the boys who wrote on the Facebook page," his letter said. "I am equally appalled at boys who liked the page or who saw it and did nothing.

"It is not ok to talk or joke about women and girls in that way. New Zealand has a shocking record of violence against women. This is not a subject for 'banter'. It is real, it hurts and it has serious consequences."

Mr Moses says a process is underway to deal with those responsible and " the boys will face consequences."

He has invited the principal of Wellington Girls' College, Julia Davidson, to speak at Wellington College's assembly next Thursday along with some of her students.

"The young women at Wellington Girls' and Wellington East Girls' Colleges are angry and upset at what has been said. We should take the time to listen to what they have to say."

Mr Moses will also visit both Wellington Girls' and Wellington East Girls' Colleges in the coming weeks to speak with them about what the college will do to "address the attitudes and issues that have led to this".

The college is working with Sexual Abuse Prevention Network (SAPN) to strengthen and extend programmes that educate boys about healthy relationships and consent.

SAPN has made its own statement addressing the Wellington College incident, as well as the recent case at St Patrick's College Silverstream  - where students made intimate recordings of staff members.

"It's clear that young men in New Zealand are being exposed to extremely problematic attitudes towards women, and that these attitudes are translating into harmful actions."

While it is important to focus on the individuals who made the comments, SAPN says it is critical to address the culture around these individuals "that allows them to think that their behaviour is acceptable".

"Whether it's the students who 'liked' the posts, or the many who saw the comments and said nothing - we need to recognise that these are not one-off, isolated incidents."

A protest will be held at Parliament on Monday afternoon to speak out against rape culture.