Editorial | Issue 17

Editorial | Issue 17

“Proctorial justice“ - Instead of making an example, set an example

I don’t know what spurred you on last week, but the letters we received were actually important. They were about things that you could be demanding changes to. An unfair disciplinary system, threats to increase a fine if you appeal a decision (and getting ripped off to gain a copy of your academic transcript) are fair issues to kick up a fuss about. 

At the top of the list, was the issue of the proctor. It’s an important role and one that can make or break a student’s time at this university. The proctor can help you get diversion and he can recommend you for expulsion — both have the ability to set a student on different paths. Otago Uni’s website claims that the proctor is there to ensure the safety of students and staff and to “maintain a healthy learning environment for all”.

Campus Watch are awesome. We even ran a feature earlier this year on how cool they can be. If you’re drunk or walking alone or both, they’ll give you a ride home. But if you’re a moron, then they’ll tell on you to the proctor. If you’re given a ride home in a wasty state, the proctor might call you in for a “chat” to tell you not to get into that state again. Aside from being rather condescending to drunk idiots (sure, they probably need it), there are priorities. Those priorities should be ensuring there is fairness when dealing with the real idiots or those being accused. 

Last week, we reported on a student who was wrongly accused of abusing Campus Watch staff, blocked from accessing Blackboard and fined, and then a 180 happened when OUSA’s Student Support got involved and, after finally accessing CCTV footage, it was made clear that the guy was innocent. No apology was made.

Since then, we have received stories of flatters who have been punished for glass on the road near their flat with no proof they are the guilty party. Another student was expelled for adding fuel to a fire, despite not being a member of the flat who lit the fire. But she was told “the uni want to make an example of you”. One story even involved a female hall resident who was picked up in a limp state half an hour after her first drink. Even her head of college believed she had been drugged, and yet she was told off for her state because the proctor said he gets that story “all the time”.

Processes are supposed to be in place for a reason. There shouldn’t be some arbitrary figure for a fine if glass is found outside your flat, if a neighbour complains about you, or if you’re a complete fuckwit. There should be a fair and thorough investigation for both sides, with all parties getting the opportunity to say their piece.

Mistakes happen everywhere and it’s ok to make them — but as a world-class institution, it’s this university’s job to set an example of how organisations and individuals should behave and what the costs are. If you’re a dick, say sorry and fix it. This should apply to the university and not just the students.

Josie Cochrane
Critic Editor

This article first appeared in Issue 17, 2015.
Posted 10:29am Sunday 26th July 2015 by Josie Cochrane.