Wellington College students stood down over Facebook 'rape' comments
Two students who posted comments about rape on a private Facebook page have been stood down for five days by Wellington College.
One of the posts said simply "f... women", while another said: "If you don't take advantage of a drunk girl, you're not a true Wc [Wellington College] boy."
The pair have issued separate apologies for the comments, both expressing regret over their actions in statements released on Wednesday afternoon.
In addition to their stand-downs, they have been stripped of their school leadership responsibilities and will not be able to represent the college in cultural or sporting activities "for an agreed period of time".
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They must also undertake community work in the coming months.
Both students will also receive tuition on consent and healthy relationships – an area in which the school says it wants to improve its teaching.
Student One's statement said: "It was an error of judgment and I was stupid for saying it. It was meant to be a joke (stupid thing to say) that I shouldn't have said.
"I wasn't being serious at all."
Student Two said he wanted to give his "sincerest apologies" to his school and its community, his family "and all [of] 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.
"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."
The school's board of trustees said it had chosen to make its disciplinary decision public, as a result of the widespread attention the incident attracted.
"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 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 students' posts sparked debate over whether students should be taught about consent as part of the school curriculum.
Hundreds turned out to protest against what was described as a growing rape culture on the forecourt of Parliament on Tuesday afternoon.
Sexual Abuse Prevention Network general manager Fiona McNamara was pleased the school was taking the issue seriously.
"It's important to have repercussions for the students involved, making it clear comments like these will not be tolerated," she said on Wednesday.
"I'm glad to see school is not just taking a punitive response, but is also looking at its own culture, and where the comments came from.
"This issue is widespread in our country, and Wellington College have the opportunity to take the lead and make the school free from rape culture.
"It's vitally important people speak out about sexual violence because, when they did in the past, they have been ignored or silenced.
"To see so many in the community and agencies speaking out loudly in support has been really effective in spreading the message that we don't want this culture any more."
STAND-DOWN v SUSPENSION
* A stand-down can total no more than five school days in a term. Students return automatically to school after a stand-down.
* A suspension is a formal removal of a student from a school until its board of trustees decides the outcome at a suspension meeting. After a suspension, boards decide how to address the misbehaviour, by lifting the suspension, extending it, or ending the student's enrolment at the school.