I am a Shore Old Boy. I spent most of my schooling – 1990 to 1999 – taking advantage of its opulent facilities, yelling its chants at the rugby or rowing and singing its hymns in the chapel. I was the school’s valedictorian, I opened the bowling for the First XI, and I achieved a pretty decent UAI. Yet I never quite felt at home inside the school gate. That leaked muck-up day list reminded me why.
I was shocked like everyone at the abhorrent nature of that list, especially the challenges inciting violence against others and predatory behaviour towards women. There is no evidence Shore boys carried through with any of the challenges, thankfully, but what I found really unnerving was the fact this list was premeditated – the vile language deliberately chosen, the document disseminated to anyone interested. Worse, it now appears this list has been passed to incoming Year 12 students since 2017. There is a viciousness to it all that is disturbing from teenage boys. Weekend reporting revealed similarly atrocious muck-up day plans at other expensive, single-sex private schools on the north shore.
Upon discovering the list, Shore headmaster Timothy Petterson wrote to parents denouncing it, saying the authors were not representing school values. “This is not who we are as a school,” he wrote. “It is extremely disappointing to all of us that [the authors’] thoughtless actions have cast a shadow, not only over the considerable achievements of their classmates, but the reputation of our school generally which strives to be a respectful, inclusive and caring environment for all.”
But a dare to break the law, damage property and humiliate or hurt others, without fear of consequences, speaks to the deeper problem that entitlement, privilege and elitism instils in young people at this and similar schools. The list from Shore students even instructs them on how to evade repercussions if caught by police. It treats the rest of the community as one giant sandpit to play in, with no regard for anyone else. Boys living in privilege must learn to appreciate it and turn it into a positive force for doing good, not treat their advantages as giving them superiority over others and immunity from consequences.