Editorial | Issue 9

Campus Watch takes eye off ball

I'd just like to say straight off the bat that Campus Watch are the ducks nuts. For the most part they do an outstanding job and are easy to get on with, usually making for some good light-hearted entertainment. 

However this week we had a particular individual walk into the office and voice his complaints about the campus vigilantes. He explained that just last week, given his tattooed appearance he was allegedly mistaken by Campus Watch as a gang member while he was sitting at the bus stop waiting on a ride home. While the accusations may be quite flattering if you were an aspiring gang affiliate or heading to a particular dress up party, this social work student was naturally a little taken aback. 

There’s probably no question that if he was white and middle class he would have found himself on the next bus home uninterrupted, but it’s the fact that he instead chooses to tattoo his face and indulge in a few piercings which has unfairly led to him being the subject of discrimination. 

I’m pretty sure that somewhere in the curriculum for all new entrant primary school kids is the lesson in not judging a book by its cover. It’s a pretty handy teaching and one that carries some weight throughout life, particularly in this situation. When the aggrieved individual came to the office the other day to explain his mistreatment, he was well spoken, well mannered and a general good guy working hard towards his studies, something that had Campus Watch given him half a chance they would have realised. 

Stereotyping is a rough practice full stop. To stereotype I feel is to restrict yourself socially. To assume that you have nothing in common with an individual based on their appearance or association just seems like a ridiculous thing to do. However I like to think that Otago is a little different given that students here for the most part get on incredibly well, whether it’s out the back of Starters Bar on a Saturday night or being pushed together in the middle of the semester for that group assignment.

In defence I’m sure Campus Watch will claim that they were taking precautions for the general safety of the student population, and perhaps that may be true. But going around and stereotyping individuals based on their appearance is discriminatory and sets a dangerous precedent.

Hugh Baird
Critic Editor

This article first appeared in Issue 9, 2016.
Posted 10:21am Sunday 1st May 2016 by Hugh Baird.