6 Nov 2009

Challenge over Otago toga parade dismissed

7:31 pm on 6 November 2009

The High Court has ruled the University of Otago was within its rights to discipline students involved in a drunken toga parade through Dunedin.

Two students were disciplined for breaching the university's code of conduct, following the parade in February this year which left rubbish, smashed eggs and broken windows in its wake.

One of the students involved in the parade was excluded from enrolment for a semester, and ordered to pay $200 towards clean-up costs.

The Otago University Students Association applied for a judicial review, claiming that the university acted outside its powers under the Education Act, because the parade happened off campus and before the academic year had begun.

But the High Court at Dunedin has ruled the students' misbehaviour fell within the university's disciplinary powers.

In his ruling, Justice Gendall said the parade of up to 2000 students had degenerated into riotous mayhem and the university's reputation had suffered.

The association's president Edwin Darlow says the ruling has clarified how far the code of conduct extends.

But he says the university should be more constructive and responsible in seeking solutions to issues facing the community.

Councillor's view

Councillor Dave Cull says the university should have the right to decide what behaviour is acceptable.

He says the university has also recognised that bad behaviour at events such as the toga parade affects the community as well.

Mr Cull says the toga parade could still be a good event, if the troublemakers could be kept out.