Otago Uni law camp cancelled

A University of Otago law camp for second year students  has been cancelled following a series of allegations of nudity and jelly wrestling.

The camp has been highly scrutinised by former students for the levels of alcohol consumed and the activities run during the weekend.

The camp is organised by The Society of Otago University Law Students (SOULS Otago), and has been running for at least a decade.

The camp was scheduled to be run next weekend, with SOULS Otago vowing to clampdown on drunkenness and ban "full nudity".

But today, SOULS put out a statement saying the pro-vice chancellor Prof Tony Ballantyne and the university were not prepared to support the camp at this time.

"Without this support, regrettably, SOULS is unable to run the camp this year."

The group would contact students directly affected, it said.

University humanities pro-vice chancellor Prof Tony Ballantyne said it met with representatives from Souls this afternoon and chose to withdraw the university's support for the upcoming camp.

"As a result, Souls has decided to cancel this year’s law camp.

"We fully support them in this decision.

"We deeply appreciate the work Souls has done to make this year’s event as safe as possible in light of concerns that were raised last year, and we understand how disappointing this might be for some students.

"But due to the concerns raised in the last 48 hours, we believe that a rethink and redesign of the event is required.

"We have offered our support to Souls today in assisting with future events that will be collegial, respectful and enjoyable for participants," Prof Ballantyne said.

The university would not comment on individual staff members, as there was a due process to follow when examining concerns about the law camps, received this past weekend.

"We express increasing concern at the tone and content of some of the social media traffic on this issue, with some people making potentially defamatory remarks and breaching natural justice rights and due process.

"If people do wish to discuss the university’s law camps on social media, we ask that people do so in a respectful and careful manner," he said.

Anyone who wanted to express concern about the law camps was welcome to contact him directly.

The university is investigating after a former student, who did not want to be named, said she attended a second-year law camp in 2012, which descended into "an American fraternity house".

Meanwhile, a former University of Otago law student has claimed members of the law faculty have acted inappropriately towards women for years.

"Otago Law has been a . . . smorgasbord of young, impressionable women for men in the faculty," said the woman in a message to a third party following a Herald on Sunday investigation.

The woman agreed to allowing the Herald to use her comments albeit anonymously.

​"Even if relationships weren't consummated, there were a lot of inappropriate conversations, caresses and carry-ons," she said.

In one of her first days at the university she recalls a staff member walking behind her and complimenting her physique.

"He once walked up the stairs behind me, whispering in my ear, 'you have such a lovely bum'.

"Being young ... I felt so special because for years I was his favourite," the woman said.


Impressionable, but not 'liberated'? The objectionable activities are against Uni protocol. Harassment is against the law. What 'power' can ruin a student's career prospects if she files a complaint?