Environmental Bandits Pollute Otago Campus
Generation Zero have tested the theory that all publicity is good publicity, after defacing University buildings with promotional propaganda on the evening of Sunday September 9.
Generation Zero members from the University of Otago have been punished by the Proctor after their publicity stunt promoting a three day youth climate summit, Power Shift, left the area around Union Hall and the Richardson buildings defaced.
The “graffiti” involved a chalk, flour, and water mix, as well as a mud mix that over time grows into moss. This eco-unfriendly concoction was spread on pavements and up the walls of university buildings, leading up to Power Shift logos. The graffiti was designed to launch the Otago region’s promotion for the event, which is to be held between 7-9 December in Auckland.
Generation Zero’s National Co-coordinator, Louis Chambers, told Critic that the goal of Power Shift, which has been organised by Generation Zero and 350, is “to educate and mobilise 1000 youths between 16-30 years old, from all over the Pacific, and for them to go out and promote climate change within their own communities.”
University policies state that any chalking, writing, posting of bills, painting of any University building is prohibited. However, chalk on pavements is acceptable due to its temporary nature.
Critic spoke to the Proctor, who encouraged alternative forms of publicity such as flyers, banners and radio advertisements. He suggested that activists should plan their actions more carefully to avoid counterproductive results: “People are protesting against hydrocarbons in air – they should think about what we use to remove their work.”
The punishment for graffiti is usually for the perpetrator to cover the cost of removing the graffiti, while repeat offenders could face other penalties such as fines or community service. In extreme cases, a student’s continued presence at the university could be in jeopardy.
The Proctor explained: “If we permit one or two things, it opens the floodgates and Dunedin will look like the drive from Auckland Airport into the City, a sea of graffiti.”
Chambers stated that their punishment of repaying the removal costs was “legit as the University has a strong policy, but we thought chalk could have been okay as it is temporary.” He says the $250 fine is expected to be paid by those involved.