Students to quiz uni vice-chancellor

Harlene Hayne
Harlene Hayne
University of Otago’s 20,000 students will have their chance to voice concerns directly to vice-chancellor Harlene Hayne through a special "Complain with Hayne" initiative.

The event is organised by the Otago University Students’ Association and billed as "a Q & A forum where you can ask the uni’s top dog whatever you want". It was advertised as the "first" such event and could potentially be repeated.

"Complain with Hayne" was originally organised as a public meeting this week,  but was cancelled due to Prof  Hayne being ill. OUSA president Caitlin Barlow-Groome said due to Prof Hayne’s upcoming travel plans and the fact the end of the semester was drawing near, questions would be submitted online by students, and OUSA would arrange for Prof Hayne’s responses to be videoed and made public before the end of the year. 

"We’ve had about 80 questions come in the last 48 hours which is wonderful," she said.

"We’ve got some questions about the art history vote, whether she thinks X issue is relevant on campus and what her thoughts were on some of the more controversial happenings around campus over the last few years.

"But of course, there are also a lot of fun and light-hearted questions there too."

The move comes after a year which has already featured some colourful student protests on issues ranging from the removal of Critic Te Arohi’s "menstruation issue" in May by a Campus Watch member to a march last week  against the proctor unlawfully confiscating bongs from student flats. Student Voice group member Finn Campbell said he thought Prof Hayne’s participation was a "wise move" by the university. He was pleased she was willing to come and talk to students, and he was keen to know what steps the university would take  to ensure students had input when it came to consultation on the future of humanities subjects.

Mental health services were another area where more consultation with students would be appreciated. When students were denied "meaningful input" it made for an uncertain atmosphere, which was "not a good look for anyone". OUSA has been running a series of meetings, and has already run two titled "Education in New Zealand", and "Mental Health at Otago".

elena.mcphee@odt.co.nz

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