Otago Uni Code of Conduct

September 13th, 2006 at 6:56 am by David Farrar

The University of Otago Council (which I used to be a member of) has sadly gone ahead and adopted a code governing student behaviour off campus. This is a huge step back to the 1950s or 60s when the university also got moralistic and banned mixed flatting – yes seriously.

If students break the law, then the Police should deal with it.

It is pleasing to see OUSA is taking legal action, based on advice the code may be outside the powers of the university.

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26 Responses to “Otago Uni Code of Conduct”

  1. belt () says:

    In today’s marketplace, the Universities compete vigourously for customers. If a University gets the wrong reputation based on the off-campus behaviour of students, one should be able to appreciate that the University would want to take steps to protect the commercial success of their organisation. Outside the powers or not, I can at least appreciate where they are coming from.

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  2. Gary () says:

    I can also appreciate the sentiments behind the code of conduct. The reputation of the university is very important to its survival. Seeing near-riots occurring on a regular basis is hardly going to promote the uni as a good, safe place to send your children for their studies.

    How is this any different to any contract which makes the bringing of disrepute to an organisation or sport, a termination offence? If it is applied sensibly, then I have no problem with it.

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  3. Jim D () says:

    Good on them I reckon. If the students had behaved themselves then there would be no need for a code of conduct.

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  4. Graeme Edgeler () says:

    “How is this any different to any contract which makes the bringing of disrepute to an organisation or sport, a termination offence? If it is applied sensibly, then I have no problem with it.”

    Those sports organisations weren’t created by statute only having specific powers, as The University of Otago was.

    “Education Act 1989

    Section 194. Statutes
    (1)The Council of an institution may make statutes, not inconsistent with this Act or the State Sector Act 1988, with respect to any of the following matters:
    (a)The good government and discipline of the institution:
    (b)The imposition, by or on behalf of the Council, of penalties upon staff or students of the institution for contravention of or failure to comply with a statute with respect to a matter referred to in paragraph (a) of this subsection: …”

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  5. Sam () says:

    Perhaps if the police were more effective in the first place, then this would not be an issue.

    Its funny how they are quite willing to trade on the image of the Dunedin student social life when it suits them…

    Thus they should just, in the words of some ‘wise’ marketing executive, …get over it…

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  6. Sam () says:

    ‘they,’ in the second paragraph, being Otago Uni of course…

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  7. Andrew Bannister () says:

    Sam, this goes well beyond social life – this is anti-social life.

    They could of course solve this problem very easily – raise the entry requirements of the university to a level higher than ‘barely able to read, not yet able to think’. Remember, we have polytechnic institutes, or Euphemersities to cater for them.

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  8. Craig Ranapia () says:

    Belt:

    Well, that’s a point – but I think you can be cynical and suggest that Otago does love to market itself as the home of the ‘scarfie lifestyle’, a stereotype that doesn’t exactly center around tea parties where the strongest beverage is a strong pot of English Breakfast. Can’t have it both ways.

    As for this Code of Conduct, if the university trued to include a similar moral turptitude clause applying to staff I think there would be a strike notice in place by now.

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  9. Andrew Bannister () says:

    But Craig, the staff don’t behave that badly.

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  10. Jono () says:

    I have a question…Does the University actuially have any right to control someone’s actions outside there grounds??

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  11. Jono () says:

    Some staff behave that badly…

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  12. lyndon () says:

    Vaguely related, I was reading a piece in the New Yorker yesterday (I know, I’m sorry, a place where I have lunch gets it in) about how keen the US is to suspend/expel students rather than work with them.

    http://www.newyorker.com/printables/talk/060904ta_talk_gladwell

    “In 1925, a young American physicist was doing graduate work at Cambridge University, in England. He was depressed. He was fighting with his mother and had just broken up with his girlfriend. His strength was in theoretical physics, but he was being forced to sit in a laboratory making thin films of beryllium. In the fall of that year, he dosed an apple with noxious chemicals from the lab and put it on the desk of his tutor, Patrick Blackett. Blackett, luckily, didn’t eat the apple. But school officials found out what happened, and arrived at a punishment: the student was to be put on probation and ordered to go to London for regular sessions with a psychiatrist.”

    That was Robert Oppenheimer.

    Jono – No. See Graeme Edgeler’s comment. To my mind it’s a kind of double jeopardy too.

    On the mixed flatting thing, may I be the first to say that the James K Baxter poem is pretty cool.

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  13. Andrew Bannister () says:

    Does the University actuially (sic) have any right to control someone’s actions outside there grounds

    The University has a right to refuse entry into their institution if they think a person doesn’t have the required entry standards. You could argue that a certain level of common decency is an entry requirement.

    By the way, it’s a university, not a kindergarten. If you can’t behave yourself, you shouldn’t be there. The point of this is to get rid of the few bad apples. Unfortunately the lot is starting to rot.

    Look, the behaviour of large hordes of students, every weekend and some weekdays, is appalling. It goes well beyond silly student antics.

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  14. Graeme Edgeler () says:

    “The University has a right to refuse entry into their institution if they think a person doesn’t have the required entry standards. You could argue that a certain level of common decency is an entry requirement.”

    Could, but they’re not. They’re trying to use this to punish/get rid of people already there.

    “By the way, it’s a university, not a kindergarten. If you can’t behave yourself, you shouldn’t be there.”

    Perhaps. And students who don’t behave themselves at university get kicked out. This is about students who do behave at university, but misbehave elsewhere.

    Any more than that, then get Parliament to change the Education Act.

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  15. Cathi () says:

    Universities are clubs and they can define who gets/stays in and who doesn’t. Entry is usually defined around academic performance but universities can exclude students already enrolled if they see fit.

    I don’t have a problem with universities stating its position on its members (staff or students) breaking the law of the land. I do have a problem with universities trying to impose regulations outside its boundaries that do not apply to non-university members. A British university I worked at tried to impose extra restrictions outside its campus so that students couldn’t park within a certain distance (the neighbours were complaining). Wrong.

    In defence of UoOtago, if the students are breaching the peace or whatever, and the police choose not to deal with it, whether by not prioritising it or some other method, the University can still take action within its own purview, as the offence has still been committed. This approach is easier to implement if it’s heralded in the regulations which all students sign up to when they enrol.

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  16. Julian () says:

    On one hand, Otago uni has capitalized on the student life to encourage other students (particuarly Auckland/Wellington students) to its campus, and so this move makes it a tad hupocritical.

    But on the other, students all around NZ are getting a bad name through the constant barrage

    As Otago Uni has said, the code of conduct should not concern all students, only the misbehaved ones-because if students are usually well behanved, there will be no problem.

    As a student, I really don’t have a problem with this as I would not be affected (1. Im not at Otago uni and 2. Im sure my behaviour wouldn’t come under that sort of code-ie its not that bad).

    But I would like to point out that Dunedin city council has spent millions promoting itself as a destination for more than just students. For many years there have been advertisements enticing people down south and now that there are more working class-middle class families etc living in Dunedin, who are not used to the student life at Otago, are getting upset.

    If you ask me, Dunedin had this one coming.

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  17. Andrew Bannister () says:

    Julian, that last bit is just stupid. It isn’t about getting used to student life. The problem is that “student life” is actually changing into something ugly.

    In the past, students would occasionally burn a couch. No big deal. Now students come to Dunedin and expect to burn a couch, because that is part of “student life”. NO IT ISN’T!!!
    Now hundreds of couches are being burnd in the streets.

    Not only that, but throwing bottles has become part of “student life” as well. IT ISN’T!! The streets are now constantly covered in broken glass, lots of it.

    This isn’t about student pranks or antics. Things are actually getting ugly.

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  18. deano () says:

    Surely if students do something which is unacceptable it is probably against the law and therefore a police matter? Why is this code needed? Student pranks are fine. Criminal actions are not. This is for the police and courts to deal with.

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  19. Craig Ranapia () says:

    Andrew Bannister wrote:
    But Craig, the staff don’t behave that badly.

    You’re not getting invited to the right parties. :) Still, if Otago wants to start sacking staff whose misconduct outside the classroom is *ahem* less than exemplary, then fine – I just hope there aren’t too many academics out there whose own uni careers involved a night out (or a demo) that ended up in the cells and a slap over the wrist with a wet bus ticket in the District Court the next morning. Hypocrisy is such an ugly word for such an ugly quality.

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  20. Clint () says:

    Pffft, even the media reported that MOST of the offending students that partook in that last bit of trouble were from Canterbury.

    This code is ridiculous and I doubt that many students will take it seriously. I went to Otago for the work hard play hard ethic and would hate to think that the Scarfie lifestyle was going to be crushed by a bunch of useless Uni Council flunkies.

    I just hope for once OUSA do their job and consign this code in the burning rubbish bin where it belongs.

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  21. Katie () says:

    Actually David, you should look a bit closer at OUSA’s actions over the Code. The OUSA President got a good ‘telling off’ by the VC in the Council meeting as the working party completed the Code draft in February and OUSA didn’t start taking a stance until August when the Senate meeting was held. OUSA completely dropped the ball on this one and is now blaming the University for not giving them time to consult with studens. Paul Chong the President said he didn’t think he was “allowed” to talk about the Code in the six month period.

    In the same Council meeting the VC and the University Council sent back changes to the fees charged to 6th year Med students because OUSA hadn’t consulted them either. Nice to know the University is looking out for us (for once) as OUSA doesn’t seem to be.

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  22. Jeremy () says:

    Hmmmm, I was sure I posted a comment or two here…

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  23. anon () says:

    Your comments center around the Uni of Otago comming down on rioting students, couch burners and bottle throwers. Where in the ‘code of conduct’ does it restrict the uni to only these things.

    nowhere! this code encompass all that otago uni chooses. remember:
    “including, but not limited to….”

    dont be fooled into thinking that they will only choose to use it to curtail any mass outbreaks of student stupidity.

    The other problem is that some comments seem to rely on the fact that the uni will only use these powers sensibly, in a benighn way. they dont. The university IS NOT A COURT SYSTEM, and as such they are bound to make mistakes, more so than our real one.

    Bill of rights anyone???? how can otago students be expected to sign away such a fundamental part of being a new zealand citizen.

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  24. Kamala Chandrasekhar () says:

    I have been trying to contact Katy Bannister.If possible could you send this messege to Andrew Bannister,comment no 90986,13th sept2006.

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  25. Kamala Chandrasekhar () says:

    I have been trying to contact Katy Bannister.If possible could you send this messege to Andrew Bannister,comment no 90986,13th sept2006.

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  26. Kamala Chandrasekhar () says:

    I have been trying to contact Katy Bannister.If possible could you send this messege to Andrew Bannister,comment no 90986,13th sept2006.

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