Otago Daily Times
Students punished for flat hazings, uni reveals
TWENTY students faced disciplinary action at the University of Otago after two flat initiations led to burglary, forced drinking and demeaning acts last year.
The university’s annual disciplinary reports, released yesterday, show university students who hosted two separate flat initiations were excluded for the first semester this year, and the incoming students who willingly participated in the hazings were also punished.
The suspensions for hosting the two flat hazings were handed out to nine students; 11 students were given 40 hours of community service and final warnings for their willing participation.
University proctor Dave Scott did not provide details of the demeaning tasks incoming students were made to do during the hazings, but he said a demeaning initiation task was any activity that was, or could be harmful to the participant, was in breach of the student code of conduct, the University of Otago ethical behaviour policy, or New Zealand law.
‘‘Only a small number of flats host events that are causing harm,’’ Mr Scott said.
‘‘It is these events that are the ongoing focus of the proctor’s office.’’
In recent years there had been a downward trend in flat initiations, due likely to the proactive educational approach of the proctor’s office and enforcement where needed by the university, he said.
In 2017, initiations led to disciplinary action against 17 students, including nine exclusions.
That year, videos and pictures circulated publicly from an initiation event described as sadistic; they showed young people in their underwear consuming alcohol until they vomited.
In 2018, 2019, and again last year, university officials went door to door to the flats deemed most likely to host problematic events to ensure expectations were understood.
The 2020 discipline reports also highlight incidents of sexual assault, assault, firelighting and other misconduct alongside academic misconduct at the university.
Students paid $12,850 in fines last year, up from $7715 in 2019, while the total number of incidents dealt with by the proctor’s office dropped to 714, from 891 the year before.
Wilful damage incidents (116) and offensive behaviour (27) were up on the previous year.
The vicechancellor’s office dealt with seven cases involving 14 students last year.
Aside from exclusions of the flat initiation hosts, a fourthyear student facing allegations of sexual assault withdrew from the university amid disciplinary proceedings.
A first year student involved in three sexual assaults and one assault against two fellow students was permanently excluded.
A former student who had completed a court sentence for a class B drug offence was allowed to reenrol.
A postdoctoral student’s enrolment was cancelled for falsifying documents, and a first year student who provided false documents for special considerations was permanently excluded, the reports said.