Otago Medical Students' Association council members Michael Catterall (20), Adele MacGregor (22) and Benjamin Grant (20) are concerned over University of Otago plans to relocate the medical library. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
The University of Otago is planning to relocate its animal
testing labs, after the spread of parasitic worms.
The university yesterday confirmed it was investigating
moving the labs to Sayers Building, where its medical library
is housed, and an advertisement for a fixed-term role
managing the relocation of the library to an ''interim site''
was posted on the university website.
The plan has angered medical students, who fear they will
lose access to the only study space in the university's
health precinct. The university, in a statement prepared by
several staff members, said there had been infections among
the animal population in its testing facilities.
A planned upgrade of the facilities was part of the $650
million building programme it announced last week.''
Some recent infections amongst our animal populations, as is
encountered in similar facilities worldwide, have highlighted
the need for us to upgrade our equipment and facilities,
hence this project's high priority on the priority
The Otago Daily Times understands the animals were
infected with a parasitic worm.
The situation posed no risk to the health of researchers and
''The university has been running animal facilities for
decades and the health and safety of staff and students
working in these environments, and the welfare of the animals
being housed, is taken very seriously.''
Changes had already been made to procedures as a result of
the infections, including the introduction of an individually
ventilated housing system.
Despite the advertising of a job managing the relocation,the
university said it was yet to make a final decision on
whether the project involved relocating the medical library,
which is spread over three floors in the Sayers Building.''
In order to upgrade systems to international best practice
significant redesign is required, whether in the existing or
a new location.''
Otago Medical Students' Association president Elizabeth
Berryman said she had been given the impression the medical
library was ''definitely'' being relocated.
This upset students, because it was the only study space for
health science students in the health precinct, Ms Berryman
Ms Berryman, who was part of a committee formed by the
association to fight the move, had discussed the issue with
health sciences pro-vice-chancellor Peter Crampton and chief
operating officer John Patrick, but felt student concerns
were being ignored.
The association had offered to help pay for a new study space
or cafe where medical students could congregate.
''They just don't seem to be interested.''
She had been told the medical library would be relocated to
the central library, which students ''wouldn't go to'', due
to the distance from the rest of the health precinct.
The medical school was already disjointed compared with those
overseas, she said.
In response to Ms Berryman's comments, the university said it
accepted an appropriate study space for students was required
in, or near, the health precinct.
''No change will happen without alternative study space being
There was no intention for the central library to house the
alternate study space.
The university's animal research facilities underpinned about
$20 million of annual research activity ''focused on
important health and biomedical questions''.