Getting our Orientation right

Ruby Sycamore-Smith.
Ruby Sycamore-Smith.
Otago University Students' Association president Ruby Sycamore-Smith explains how OUSA Orientation events are organised to ensure people have a great time, while doing so in the safest possible environment.

Orientation Week is upon us again!

With the week comes a great number of students who are here to get settled, explore Dunedin, spend money, party and of course head along to our Orientation Week events.

Here at OUSA we have a week full of activities and entertainment planned that all tertiary students and the public can get along to.

With such a large number of people, we need to make it clear we take our responsibilities to provide a safe environment seriously, and we have large contingent of volunteers, professional staff and emergency professionals on board to minimise harm.

When a city puts 25,000 young people in one place bad things will happen.

That is a fact irrespective of intent because most bad things happen when people are behaving in an everyday fashion: cooking, cleaning, shopping or studying.

Sadly, thanks to the troubles of the past and the misbehaviour of a minority, North Dunedin will continue to be a media focal point when it comes to student behaviour.

While we can't control what goes on outside of our events, we can continue to focus on providing students attending our events with opportunities to make good decisions about how they go about their night.

We see at all of our events that when you give students opportunities to make good decisions - such as to drink free water, eat food and take a break - they take them.

And it seems to be true that the more students are at our events the fewer negative incidents take place as a whole.

Students want to have a good time, and no-one wants to end up going home early.

So we rely on going above and beyond the minimum requirements with our trained staff, Red Frogs and our Are You OK?

support teams to help ensure people attending our events have a great time and do so in the safest environment possible.

Our events have been improving year by year and we're thankful they have earned a good reputation with the emergency services, which are in the best position to judge.

We also value public opinion so we've worked hard to communicate well what we're doing and why.

The OUSA is 124 years old.

We're part of the Dunedin community not apart from it.

Our motives are providing the best student experience in the country and our ambition is to be the best in Australasia.

We are a not-for-profit that needs to not make a loss rather than what we see with a small number of event promoters who squeeze every dollar they can out of an event, leaving the community to clean up the mess.

We want promoters to bring the best acts to Dunedin, whether we are involved or not.

If they want our involvement we have created a 24-point checklist which ensures anyone working with the OUSA goes above and beyond the minimum safety precautions.

No 1 on our list is that the culture of the event, expressed through plans and publicity, must not focus on alcohol use.

Outside of our events we wish to thank the emergency services of Dunedin and all the people who are in some way affected by Orientation events.

Your patience and support help make this the best city in the country for students to come and study at.

The proactive moves by the police and the Fire Service to get out and in front of students are great and we see they mostly lead to smarter decisions by those who are most likely to make bad decisions.

Now, we're not perfect and the best-laid plans can go wrong.

We will make mistakes and we will get things wrong.

We believe that our values, transparency and communications put Dunedin in the best place to receive 25,000 young people and get them ''Orientated'' for their academic year.

We are ready for an amazing week that will welcome new and returning students to Dunedin, and we hope to see you out there with them!

Rain or shine we have events for everyone, and thankfully the stadium will keep us dry!

Get out there #gigatowndun and enjoy the new life breathed into this great city.

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