Australia

Melbourne private school apologises for students' 'misogynistic' chant on tram

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The headmaster of an elite private school has apologised after a group of students were caught on camera singing an "offensive" chant.

The headmaster of an elite Melbourne private school has apologised for the "poor behaviour and misogynistic attitudes" of a group of students who performed an offensive chant on a tram.   

St Kevin's College students were filmed by a tram passenger singing the degrading chant known as "I Wish All the Ladies" on Saturday. 

Lyrics include: "I wish that all the ladies were holes in the road. And if I was a dump truck, I'd fill them with my load".

The footage was provided to ABC News and has since been widely viewed. 

Headmaster Stephen Russell wrote to parents of the Toorak Catholic school on Tuesday expressing his frustration and anger about the behaviour. 

"As a husband, a father of a daughter, a brother of four sisters, a son and, I hope, a good friend and decent colleague to many women, I know this behaviour cannot go unchallenged," Mr Russell said.

He said the students were mainly in years 10 and 11 and were travelling on the tram to an athletics competition.

"We commenced our investigation into this offensive and misogynistic behaviour yesterday morning and we are well underway to understanding the extent of the behaviour and the boys involved."

In a separate statement to the media, Mr Russell unreservedly apologised for the offence and inconvenience caused by the students. 

The boys involved have reportedly been suspended.

The headmaster confirmed the boys would face disciplinary action, but did not specify what that would be. 

"Students upset by the behaviour have already come to me and we have been following through in both a disciplinary and pastoral manner today," Mr Russell said. 

'Arrogance' of boys behind outcry

While the chant the boys used has been around for years, commentator and public school advocate Jane Caro said this particular video has caused such an outcry because of its public nature.

“It takes an enormous amount of arrogance to sing like that in a commuter train,” Ms Caro said.

Jane Caro
Jane Caro says the arrogance of the boys to chant in public has contributed to the outrage.
Twitter

“We would chant dirty rhymes if we were going on school excursions, or heading on a bus to a sports day, but those were dedicated school buses, they weren’t public transport with other people on them.

“That’s a level of arrogance not often seen."

Ms Caro’s concerns were shared by domestic violence charity Our Watch chief executive Patty Kinnersly who told SBS News the video shows that some young men still feel like they need to adhere to ridged versions of masculinity to be accepted.

“This sort of disrespect or degrading women to be one of the boys is really worrying,” Ms Kinnersly said.

“It’s concerning because language matters and so a society where we accept this degrading or demeaning language about women is also one that accepts violence as more normal.

“These young people will grow up to be the next leaders, the next parents, the next sports coaches, so we need to ensure that we are building respectful relationships in our young people as much as we are in older people.” 

St Kevin’s College said it has programs designed to teach and shape its students’ behaviour and attitudes about respectful relationships.

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