Campus Vigilante

Campus Vigilante

Campus Watch are great, but what if we had a Batman instead?

Otago’s campus is rife with debauchery, crawling with scallywags wreaking havoc in the prime time of their youth. Campus Watch, the noble defenders of order on our beloved Uni grounds and student-populated streets, have their work cut out for them. No student would deny their appreciation for the mahi that these knights in shining Hi-Vis do for us. They keep their eyes peeled for any dodgy activity, check on our flats while we’re out of town, and provide safe transport for out-of-commission students on late nights (shout-out to the ‘Vomit Comet’). But there’s one problem: they can only operate within the confines of the law. 

If action movies have taught us anything, it’s that violence doesn’t beget more violence: violence be-getting shit done. Therefore, with the laws that prevent Campus Watch from being unstoppable bringers of unrelenting justice, how are unruly students supposed to feel completely deterred from committing criminal acts? Campus Watch can’t throw hands with bottle-smashers, but do you know who could? Motherfricking Batman. 

As Robert Pattinson’s Batman said: “Fear is a tool.” And with the emergence of a crime-fighting vigilante with questionable morals and methods set loose on Otago’s campus, assault, vandalism, trespassing, and littering would be sure to decline at an unprecedented rate. If you felt the ominous presence of a caped figure lingering in the shadows, you’d think twice before tossing your Big Mac box into the Leith. “Be a Tidy Kiwi,” would come a deep growl from over your shoulder. 

It’s true, we don’t exactly have a rampant Gotham City-level crimewave going on at Otago Uni, but Critic posits that there’s a way to eliminate 100% of what we do have. Student debauchery is trending downwards, but fringe cases of cartoonishly villainous antics do crop up – some initiation activities feel like they’d be put on by the Joker, and campus scandals of bra thieves or sign-stealing wars can seem like M-rated Scooby Doo mysteries. With this in mind, Critic proposes that the University of Otago discreetly employ a campus vigilante. 

In answer to your logistical questions, here’s a complete list of things that would need to be accounted for if this project is to work.

1.  Funding
Behind every great hero is a major media studio and a conglomeration of 1960s-era social anxieties. We don’t have that, and we certainly don’t have orphan-billionaire wads of cash, but we can at least syphon some money from the Campus Watch budget. Like your mate whose bank account has never recovered from the overdraft pit, the Uni is already in a deficit – what’s a little more? It’d be a bit of a “yikes” moment if Campus Watch became significantly smaller (especially amidst all the other staff cuts) but we know by now that the Uni can handle a little heat. 

Primary expenses would include a dojo, numerous copies of the same Kevlar outfit (vigilante-ing is sweaty work), and personalised getaway e-scooters. The dojo will need to be handled with the most care. As it’s literally a room full of evidence against the vigilante project, its location is top secret. For this reason, we suggest the classic hiding-in-plain-sight method. Having all the equipment stored away in the Smithells Gymnasium might be the go. An ‘MMA training program’ could then be established, disguising our vigilante’s training space as a regular-occuring communal fitness experience that would surely avert any suspicion.

2.  The Look
Our vigilante’s outfit must represent the same qualities as Batman's. It’s all about branding and practicality. Our man needs to be limber but intimidating; a demonic creature of the night from a distance, with the potential for a friendly interaction with casual passersby. Critic envisions our Dark Knight wearing a lightweight rain jacket, a pair of combat trousers, some Nike Air trainers (as Michael Keaton dons in the 1989 Batman film), a layer of badass protective motorbiking armour, leather gloves, a balaclava and paintball mask combo, and an eerie-looking, partially torn and tattered cape. Dunedin students love a good thrift. 

The gadgets required would be about what you’d expect: some batarang-like projectiles, a CO2-powered grappling hook, a modified vape to dispense thick clouds (for disappearing mysteriously), a can of Speights in a sock, and a wireless razor – a critical instrument of justice to brand offenders with a skullet haircut.  This would be reminiscent of Ben Affleck Batman’s branding method from ‘Batman Vs Superman’ (but a lot less severe). Shame is the greatest weapon of them all.

3. The Selection
Next, we need to determine how our vigilante would be selected. They would need to have a phenomenal level of fitness and strength (a certified gym bro, if you will) and be well-versed in hand-to-hand combat. Another key ingredient is a tragic backstory. It doesn’t necessarily need to be as grim as Bruce Wayne’s, but it should be something that has caused them to see the world in a darker way. Maybe they were subject to a flat initiation. Maybe they’ve tried multiple times to get into Med without success. Maybe they’re an adult who skates. What’s important is that, one way or another, they’ve had a taste of injustice and it’s made them jaded. They’re no longer afraid to unleash their demons on unsuspecting hooligans. Preferably, they’d have a degree in Criminology and excellent detective skills or, failing that, the ability to smell a stolen air fryer from a kilometre away. After signing a NDA, they could be tempted by the exciting opportunity and the offer of extremely high pay.

4. The “guy in the chair”
Every vigilante needs his guy in the chair. Batman claims to operate alone, but we all know he’d be lost without Alfred, Lucius Fox or Oracle while out on patrol. Our campus is no different – while admittedly smaller than Gotham City, a vigilante is just one man. Conveniently, our vigilante’s turf comes decked out with a network of security cameras monitored from the bat cave (Proctor’s Office). Campus Watch already has the systems in place for this partnership, keeping in comms through walkie-talkies during shifts. All they’re missing is an earpiece and a vigilante with a thirst for justice. Part of the budget will go to AI-modulating our hero’s voice during this – partly to help protect their identity, and partly because I think Campus Watch would find it entertaining.

5. The Chase
As badass as it would be, giving our hero their own ‘Batmobile’ would be neither feasible nor practical. The current ‘Vomit Comet’ name for the Campus Watch patrol car is too good to mess with, and it would be a bit awkward to navigate through campus at the speed and agility required. They’d need something more disposable and stealthy, like a dozen or so e-scooters hidden in various spots throughout campus – preferably behind locked doors in different buildings. You may scoff, but keep in mind: some of these absolute weapons can reach speeds that rival even the ‘Vomit Comet’ itself. Imagine the terror of watching one of those things torpedoing straight towards some breatha after they pushed over a wheelie bin. If we wanna get a bit more crazy, though, how about this: motorised rope mechanisms going up every University building (disguised as window-cleaner riggings) which our vigilante can hook themself to, allowing them to zoom to the rooftops in seconds. Additional motorised ziplines (disguised as… I don’t know, power lines?) would connect the rooftops above. We barely need to disguise them – when did you last look upwards on campus? Having both these traversal methods, they would be able to get from one side of campus to the other quicker than you can say “cheahoo”. 

6. The Rogues Gallery
As we all know, a huge part of Batman’s appeal as a character are his relationships with his super-villain enemies. From crazed psychopaths like Joker, to trivial menaces like Kite Man, Batman’s “rogues gallery” is full of the most oddball villains imaginable. Like any true romance, this is something that should happen organically, but how cool would it be if our vigilante had their own unique lineup of rivals? It would be impossible to predict who these bold adversaries would be exactly, but we can keep our fingers crossed that they end up being as wacky as Batman’s opps. Ideally, there would be an equivalent to many of Gotham’s most wanted: a Botany major as ‘Poison Ivy’, a Psychology professor could be our ‘Scarecrow’, or a random Dunedin citizen who’d escaped a life sentence due to his father’s crimes could be our ‘Bane’. There are so many possibilities! 

As some nerds (Law students) may be thinking, this whole idea is, in essence, severely illegal. Would it not be utterly detrimental to the University if such a thing happened? While one might think there is merit to this barely-relevant point, here’s two points of rebuttal. Firstly, nobody has to know about this slightly sketchy project. And secondly, even if this secret was somehow exposed, it’d blow over in no time. The Uni is no stranger to controversy, right? At the end of the day, what really matters is that justice is done, and that the hellish flame that is on-campus crime is permanently extinguished. When all is said and done, our vigilante saviour will stand triumphantly on the Clocktower, like Batman on a gargoyle, cape flapping in the wind as they look over the reborn university with a faint smirk. With that, the legend of Otago University’s vigilante will fade… until they’re needed again.

This article first appeared in Issue 10, 2024.
Posted 8:07pm Sunday 5th May 2024 by Hunter Jolly.