Seven students were punished by University of Otago
vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne for their involvement with
fires in the student quarter last year.
The university's 2012 annual discipline reports were released
yesterday, and shows 15 students were referred to Prof Hayne
Those disciplinary reports showed ''students who were caught
lighting fires and who went through the full disciplinary
process, were given a semester off'', she said.
That included a second-year student who piled wooden material
in the middle of Leith St north and set it alight, and was
suspended for the second semester of 2012.
Three other students were also stood down for a semester for
their involvement in lighting fires.
In another incident, a second-year student who attempted to
set fire to a duvet draped over himself - and who later
provided false details to Campus Watch - was given a penalty
of 50 hours' community service.
Prof Hayne said she was disappointed to hear about an
incident earlier this month involving two students who jumped
off a fire engine.
She endorsed moves by the Fire Service and the police to take
a stronger stance.
''Sometimes, students do get themselves in activities that do
require the action of the police, and I will strongly support
police in their actions.''
The best way for the university to deal with other
disciplinary incidents was through its code of conduct, she
During 2012, Prof Hayne dealt with 15 cases referred by the
provost, who in turn dealt with 25 students referred by the
Last year, the proctor dealt with 512 students over the same
period, a decrease of 21 on the previous year.
Prof Hayne said students understood the dangers of lighting
fires and were supportive of measures to prevent future
''I would really like to go back to being the vice-chancellor
rather than the judge, jury and the jailer.''
She stressed that alcohol consumption by University of Otago
students was no different from other institutions.
''We know that students all over the country are drinking too
much alcohol. It is not an Otago-specific problem.''
''What is an Otago-specific problem is the anti-social
behaviour which comes from concentrating a large number of
young people in one area.''
Pastoral care initiatives, such as Campus Watch and reminding
students about the dangers of alcohol, were provided for
students in order to reduce the drinking to ''a dull roar'',