The punishment should fit the offence

It was recently reported in the media that students from a school in Melbourne, Australia were singing a song on a tram on the way to a sports carnival. The school in question is St Kevin’s College, an independent Catholic school. Many would consider it strange that schoolboys singing a song on a tram would be newsworthy, but this is 2019. The lyrics of the song were recorded by another passenger on the tram:

I wish that all the ladies.
Were holes in the road.
And if I were a dump truck.
I’d fill them with my load.

I wish that all the ladies.
Were whales in the ocean.
And I was a surfer.
And ride ’em with my motion.

I suspect the last line should have been sung as I’d ride ’em with my motion. This would be consistent with the first paragraph and would make more sense.

After this became public the Australian Broadcasting Corporation went on to report that former students of the school had complained about an environment of hypermasculinity. Hypermasculinity. Sounds like a superpower.

There was a time, not so long ago, that a school like St Kevin’s College would have meted out detention if the school believed that students had brought the school into disrepute through their actions. Detention is a common punishment in schools in many countries and normally involves a student being required to remain in class either during a break or after school. But those days have passed. It has been reported that St Kevin’s College has suspended 10 boys and is considering expelling them as a result of singing on a tram.

The headmaster of St Kevin’s College, Stephen F Russell, was reportedly upset, frustrated and angry at what had occurred. Granted, the boy’s singing was awful, and they flubbed the last line, but this seems like an over-reaction. In a letter to parents, Mr Russell has stated that St Kevin’s College ‘will continue to challenge poor behaviour and misogynistic attitudes‘.

I hope that the administration of St Kevin’s College will take a step back, get some perspective, and realise that the punishment should fit the offence. Expulsion could seriously harm these boy’s futures and is a clear over-reaction, entirely inconsistent with how this would have been dealt with only a few years ago. The administration of St Kevin’s College might also like to give some thought to the world that these young men will soon enter as adults. Rather than concerning itself so much with misogyny, St Kevin’s College should be teaching boys how to live in a world with rampant misandry.

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