Solutions to Undie 500 disorder studied

Some actions that might avoid future Undie 500 disorder have been outlined in a University of Otago study.

Maria Stubbe, a senior research fellow in the department of primary health care and general practice at the Wellington campus of Otago University's School of Medicine, presented the findings of a case study of alcohol-fuelled student events, focusing on the Undie 500 rally to Dunedin, to the Alcohol Advisory Council conference in Auckland yesterday.

The research explored stakeholder and media perspectives on the rallies of 2008 and 2009, including an analysis of media coverage from TVNZ, the Otago Daily Times, The New Zealand Herald and one blog site.

Ms Stubbe said there were some unexpected findings.

The media portrayed all alcohol-fuelled events in Dunedin as being part of Undie 500 despite the fact some of the disruptive behaviour had preceded the arrival of the rally cars and non-students were also involved in the disturbance, a point largely overlooked in the media reports, she said.

The research found negative publicity overshadowed the positive efforts of the Canterbury University engineering students who organised the rally.

Changes proposed by the Law Commission to the sale or marketing of alcohol to young people, providing alternative organised events and more media coverage of the positive side of events and student culture could all help avoid future disorder associated with the rally, she said.

Otago Daily Times editor Murray Kirkness said he believed any reasonable reader would argue that the newspaper's coverage of the Undie 500 and the associated disorder was both balanced and considered.

"And that applies whether it's the Undie 500 or any other event we cover."

He reiterated his previous comment that people needed to take responsibility for their own behaviour.

It is understood the rally will not be returning to Dunedin this year.



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