Student misbehaviour - blame it on the sunshine?

Fine weather could to be blame for a spike in student disciplinary cases in February and March this year, University of Otago proctor Simon Thompson says.

Numbers given to the Otago Daily Times under the Official Information Act show Mr Thompson's office dealt with 86 more cases of student misbehaviour in the past six months than over the corresponding period last year.

Overall, the proctor's office dealt with 376 cases of student discipline in the first six months of this year, compared with 290 in 2014, and 247 in the first seven months of 2013.

The increase this year compounded last year's 17%, 43-case rise on 2013 numbers.

Only one period had a marked variation - ''right at the start of the year in February-March'', Mr Thompson said.

''All the other months balance out to be the same as last year.''

For February and March, Mr Thompson admitted there was a jump.

He dealt with 77 students last year, and more than double that number this year - 197.

''It is difficult to give a definitive reason for this increase, although almost certainly the run of fine weather played a major part, as did the decision by the university to act quickly to deal with inappropriate and antisocial behaviour,'' he said.

Climate data from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research show February 2015 temperatures in Dunedin were 0.2degC lower than normal, while March 2015 temperatures were 0.7degC above normal.

The same report found Dunedin was sunnier than usual in both months, with 121% of normal sunshine.

Otago University Students' Association president Paul Hunt agreed the increase in disciplinary incidents on corresponding 2014 numbers was ''a result of more reported incidents in Orientation Week''.

''However, throughout the rest of the year, the levels of reported incidents are comparable to the 2014 figures.''

As was the case last year, the offences most commonly dealt with by the proctor were disorderly conduct (121) and wilful breaking of glass (65).

Overall, students seen by the proctor paid $17,570 in fines.

Provost Prof Ken Hodge, who deals with more serious disciplinary cases, referred eight to vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne.

Of those, Prof Hayne decided to exclude two students for a semester - one student for stealing a couch and setting it on fire, and the other for throwing bottles on to the street.

The second student had already been seen twice by the proctor's office in 2014, the report said.

Another student, who allegedly assaulted a police officer and Campus Watch member, withdrew from university.

A student who set fire to a recycling bin was issued a final written warning and a choice between 40 hours' service to the university or a $400 fine.

Prof Hodge also handled one case of theft, one suspected ''armchair burning incident'' and failure to comply with Campus Watch, and an assault of a Campus Watch member.

carla.green@odt.co.nz

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