Students 'one big family' at oldest hall

Selwyn College students enjoy the sunshine in their quad. Photo by Peter McIintosh.
Selwyn College students enjoy the sunshine in their quad. Photo by Peter McIintosh.
Parents of first-year students leaving home for the first time can breathe easy about them behaving and eating their greens in a hall of residence.

The Otago Daily Times visited Dunedin's oldest hall, Selwyn College, yesterday and found it to be a tightly run, group-oriented ship.

Established in 1893 and known for its intense rivalry with Knox College, it was also one of the most popular colleges in the city.

With 3.5 applications a bed this year, warden the Rev David Clark had the task of hand-picking the 160 students who would spend the next 10 months under the same roof.

He enjoyed being able to select a good mix of students from public and private schools, urban and rural areas and from all over the country, he said.

Over the year they became a tight community and the small number allowed them to all get to know each other.

Friendships formed at Selwyn often lasted a lifetime, he said.

While a tennis court, squash court, pool table, music room, video games and SkyTV were available to help students relax and socialise, many competitions and activities strengthened their friendships.

One of the well-known activities was the Selwyn Ballet, open to any male student at the college.

"They take it very seriously," Dr Clark said, to ensure they looked professional for their audiences.

The Leith Run was known as an entertaining event which would be held tomorrow.

It involved Selwyn students carrying a bath tub down the Leith while ex-residents threw flour bombs and eggs at them.

Sporting and cultural challenges also occurred on a regular basis with rival college Knox.

Another important part of the family mentality was meal time.

"Eating together and sharing every day is really important to us," Dr Clark said.

He was present at each meal where notices about college life were shared.

He placed importance in personal interaction between college staff and students.

While parents would be pleased to know their children were eating in a civilised manner, the students would be more concerned about what they were eating.

Selwyn College prided itself on its changeable menu which appeared to keep students happy.

Sewage problems

Talk about bread and circuses, Dunedin can afford a $200,000,000 stadium but can't afford decent water and sewage systems.
Where are the counciilors' priorities?


I see Selwyn's webpage ( puts its weekly fees at a modest $308, so I wonder how many students from low income families are able to live there. Some of the long-running rituals, such as the Leith Run, might seem to give new arrivals to Dunedin the wrong idea about what is appropriate behaviour.