Scarfies warned lighting fires could ruin career prospects

Students caught lighting fires could ruin their career prospects, University of Otago proctor Simon Thompson says.

Since Orientation began on Monday, Mr Thompson has issued $4500 in fines to 35 students for breaching the code of conduct.

He confirmed two students were also facing further action by the provost and the prospect of exclusion from the university as a result of their ''foolish actions''.

Under the code of student conduct, any student located and identified while throwing bottles or lighting fires could be expelled from the university.

Identifying offenders had proved difficult and Mr Thompson reiterated that on many occasions students were not responsible for the disorder.

''Lighting fires and throwing bottles simply will not be tolerated. ''Anyone attempting this is taking the very real risk of getting caught and, when they do, they face major consequences from ... the university, the police and the Fire Service.

''It's enough to wreck a young person's future career prospects. So it really is a case of `dumb and dumber' for students who choose this path,'' he said.

University of Otago vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne said that the lighting of fires was not acceptable and would not be tolerated by the university.

''We fully support the Fire Service and police in their efforts to apprehend offenders who carry out criminal behaviour. ''Our code of student conduct makes it clear that any offence relating to fires and couch burning will result in serious trouble for the perpetrator.

''We have taken a hard line with students who have been caught lighting fires, and we will continue to do so,'' she said.

Otago Polytechnic chief executive Phil Ker, who has been in Wellington for the past few days, said: ''I think it's extraordinary that people would place other people's life at risk.''

Mr Thompson said, overall, Orientation had gone well for the vast majority of students, who had been responsible and were enjoying the events provided by the university and the Otago University Students' Association.

The general atmosphere was collegial and pleasant and there was no doubt the students were enjoying the sunshine with their friends, he said.

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