Discipline, organisation credited for better behaviour

Fear of the University of Otago proctor and careful organisation of events has resulted in better behaviour during recent O-Weeks.

That is the message from both Dunedin Hospital and police, who have both noticed a reduction in the amount of alcohol-fuelled bad behaviour over the week.

Dunedin police alcohol harm reduction officer Sergeant Ian Paulin said students were more afraid of the proctor than police and that fear had resulted in improved behaviour during O-Week and other parts of the year.

''I think there is a real awareness out there ... that the first time you get arrested or come in contact with the police you get a warning, then there is diversion available.''

''Whereas the relationship we have with the proctor means they front Monday morning and its very real for them, within 24 hours to 28 hours of their offending,'' Sgt Paulin said.

The fact serious misbehaviour could result in expulsion from the university gave the proctor even more weight.

The extra work Otago University Students' Association put into making sure O-Week events were safe had also made a difference to behaviour.

''They are definitely a lot better run than they have been in the past. We have never had issues at the stadium at an OUSA event,'' he said.

This was supported by Southern District Health Board executive director of patient services Lexie O'Shea who said the emergency department no longer had extra staff on during O-Week.

''The OUSA have utilised good strategies to reduce the impact upon services like ED over the past few years, therefore we now staff our department as we normally would for a normal week.

''However, we do take the precaution of placing staff on-call, which enables us to call on staff at short notice if there is any unforeseen increase in activity,'' Mrs O'Shea said.

During last year's O-Week there were 892 presentations to ED or on average 127 patients per day, which was more than the February average of 120 per day and the January average of 106.

Of presentations during last year's O-Week, 102 were alcohol related, but these could not all be attributed to O-Week, as patients ranged in age from 17 to 76.

''While O-Week does impact upon ED ... data shows that February overall had a lesser impact from alcohol-related issues than most other months of the year,'' she said.

-vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

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