Tertiary students call for change in light of rape culture protest
The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) and Thursdays in Black today stand in solidarity with students from three Wellington high schools as they take their protest against rape culture to Parliament.
The students from Wellington East Girls' College, Wellington Girls' College, and Wellington High School are taking action after comments from students at Wellington College, which condoned rape and sexual violence, surfaced online.
During a week when several students at another Wellington high school, St. Patrick’s Silverstream, were suspended for harassing two women staff members, it is clear these incidences are not isolated cases.
“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, which points to a need for standardised, respectful and healthy relationships and consent education for our young people in New Zealand schools,” says Izzy O’Neill, National Coordinator of Thursdays in Black.
“For tertiary students, particularly women, it is common to experience these sorts of views through many stages of their education journey. As Wellington East Girls 2014 graduate Jessica Dellabarca said last week, ‘it's not something that pops up every now and then, it is something that happens every single day.’”
“It is important that we recognise that rape culture is very real. We must use this as an opportunity to challenge rape culture and purposefully identify where we should be implementing education for our young people” says Ms O’Neill.
These examples are evidence that everyone must do more to address these problematic views and behaviours.
“Today, we stand in solidarity with Wellington East Girls’ College students. It is important that people speak up when they see behaviour that is unacceptable and that is what is happening today,” says Jonathan Gee, National President of NZUSA.
“All too often, 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.”
Today’s protest was due to take place outside Wellington College, however, it was relocated to Parliament after organisers received threats of physical violence. The protest is planned to begin at Parliament at 4.30pm and will then head to Civic Square.