University backs down on rubbish powers

Rubbish from a Leith St student party spills down the Water of Leith bank yesterday. PHOTO:...
Rubbish from a Leith St student party spills down the Water of Leith bank yesterday. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Controversial rubbish provisions have been dropped from the University of Otago’s proposed code of conduct changes after backlash from students.

The proposed provision would have allowed the proctor to issue a notice to clear rubbish to a student residence that had a significant rubbish issue.

A daily fine could be imposed up to a maximum amount where rubbish was not cleared in a reasonable timeframe.

It comes as a complaint was made to the Otago Regional Council about furniture and debris in the Water of Leith yesterday.

The university received submissions on the proposed changes in May.

In response, the university said it recognised rubbish continued to be an issue, particularly in North Dunedin.

However, after considering submissions on the issue, the university decided to remove the rubbish provisions.

It would continue to work with its partners in The Sophia Charter, including the Dunedin City Council, the Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) and landlords.

Action was still needed to deal with rubbish dumping on private land, the response said.

Many submissions on the issue criticised the university for trying to police students’ private lives.

OUSA opposed the provision and called it a "serious overreach by the university, extending beyond their statutory powers as an academic institution".

Association president Michaela Waite-Harvey said OUSA was pleased student submissions were heeded in the process.

Meanwhile, a Dunedin resident, who asked not to be named, has made a complaint to the regional council about rubbish in the Water of Leith.

The issue of rubbish in the water in Leith Rd was ongoing, but yesterday it had been particularly bad, the resident said.

There were at least two sofas, a picnic table and an ‘‘enormous’’ amount of debris that appeared to be from parties, in the water.

"Most of the flats that back on to the river do not have a decent fence, so material is just spewing down the bank from backyard parties."

She said she had reported the rubbish to the regional council in the past and it had always sent someone to clean up.

A neighbour of a flat with rubbish behind it said some had spilled down the bank but the residents had cleaned up after themselves later in the morning.

Regional council compliance manager Tami Sargeant said it was a prosecutable offence to dispose of contaminants such as rubbish and large items in a waterway.

In yesterday morning’s case, proactive action had been taken by the offenders so no further action would be taken.



Hmmmm, why do the students remind me of farmers? Oh that's it, they both want to pollute our environment but not face any consequences.

Hmmmm, why does this comment remind me of someone who doesn't want to eat?, if you are that against farmers then I suggest not eating or wearing what they you don't....

What a stupid comment. It is not either eat and pollute the environment or save the environment and not eat at all. It is absolutely possible to use modern farming techniques that enhance efficiency while being much less damaging to the environment. If all farmers had started to implement those over the last decades, we wouldn't have the massive problems we are facing now and it would not have been such a big financial burden on them all at once. But they didn't, so there is no choice but to put pressure on them now.
About the students: it is absolutely disgraceful to leave your rubbish lying around, but I do agree that this is not the universities business. Landlords should insist on their tenants not to litter their property, and if they do, get a company to clean up and let the tenants pay the fine.

I agree with Lisa, landlords should be doing a better job at sorting this out. It's their property and their tenants, nothing to do with the Uni. In fact, the ORC and DCC should be taking action with the landlords and tenants because the tenants are actually 'fly tipping'.

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