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Otago Boys' High principal defends ticket sales rule

Author
Nathan Morton, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 10 May 2023, 8:33am
Footage of a brutal attack at Otago Boys' High School has spread rapidly around Dunedin. Photo / ODT
Footage of a brutal attack at Otago Boys' High School has spread rapidly around Dunedin. Photo / ODT

Otago Boys' High principal defends ticket sales rule

Author
Nathan Morton, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 10 May 2023, 8:33am

The head of a South Island high school has defended its decision to prevent students from attending their Y13 formal if they only purchase single tickets, they must instead bring a partner.

He said the matter is a question of making the school event “financially viable”, but it hasn’t stopped backlash against the rule.

Otago Boys’ High School has seen 84 tickets sold to its mid-year school formal thus far, yet the school’s rector - Richard Hall - claimed to have been “attacked” on social media over the event.

Students appeared to read the decision to prevent single tickets from being purchased as having homophobic and discriminatory intentions towards those not in a relationship.

The complaints were expressed to the school over social media.

“Wrongly assumptions have been made about our school and its culture,” said Hall in a statement to the Herald.

“This has been misconstrued as against the LGBTQI+ community and as discriminatory against those not in a relationship.”

Explaining the thought process behind the decision, Hall said the last two years had seen an increase of students purchasing single tickets, which he said created problems around meeting budgeted ticket sale numbers.

“In 2022, we had to postpone the formal until August because of this,” he said.

Allowing only single tickets to be purchased also, according to Hall, changed “the tone and ethos of the event”.

The college’s students had gone on in posts to express a belief on social media that the formal’s cancellation notice - used in, for example, a major Covid-19 outbreak - as being illegal.

Hall dismissed this idea.

Otago Boys' High School rector Richard Hall said wrong assumptions had been made about his school and its culture. Photo / ODT

Otago Boys' High School rector Richard Hall said wrong assumptions had been made about his school and its culture. Photo / ODT

“In regards to a potential loss of deposit, this is standard practice for a number of schools. We cannot afford to subsidise this any more than we do,” the rector said.

“I hope I would not have to, but I will anyway, be clear, I have no problem with the identity or gender of [an attendee’s] partner.”

The rector acknowledged the school’s “hard-working” Year 13 formal committee that had worked hard to keep the price of attending the event as low as possible.

In preparation for the formal, Hall also said he’d met with Year 13 students, the prefect leadership and a class of Year 13 students - followed by the entire year group and explained the ethos of the event.

Hall said it was made clear to the students that the school needed ticket sales and what the event’s ethos was.

Because the school has sold the number of tickets it has, the event “will happen” barring catastrophe.

Signing off, Hall mentioned the school tragedy at the opposite end of the country, where a student caving in Whangarei was washed away by flood waters.

“I realise our situation is not the tragedy that others are trying to make out. Perspective is important.”

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