Orientation happened

Orientation happened

Lack of drama sees Critic forced to run fluff piece

With a couch fire on the Saturday evening preceding O-Week, the stage was set for a roaring Orientation; a “return to true Scarfiedom,” even, as some observers speculated.

The incident saw four people arrested for setting the fire outside 15 Hyde Street at approximately 10:45pm on Saturday 15 February. Of the men arrested, one was a 19-year-old male student who has been charged with lighting the fire and will most likely receive further disciplinary action from the University. The others arrested included an 18-year-old electrician, of Dunedin, charged with offensive language, a 17-year-old labourer, also of Dunedin, charged with obstruction, and a 19-year-old unemployed Gore man, charged with disorderly behaviour. Critic notes that it has become a trend in recent years that most Orientation misbehavior tends to come from non-students.

However, with OUSA’s events more hotly anticipated than couch fires, a complete lack of drama for the rest of the week was on the cards. As her first major event since being elected OUSA President, Ruby Sycamore-Smith seemed to handle things well and enjoyed the liveliness of it all. “It’s been an awesome week and it’s so cool to see everyone going out with such great attitudes.”

OUSA Events and Communications Manager Dan Hendra also (predictably) spoke positively of the events. “The week has been fantastic so far, especially with the weather holding off. Having the stadium also makes everything run a lot smoother.”
Having overcome the Netsky faux pas of 2013, which initially saw only students with Super Passes able to purchase tickets to the event, OUSA made ticket sales for O-Week events as accessible as possible. Stand-alone tickets to all the events were available, as well as the new Music Pass that offered access to all the major music nights, including the After Party, at a cheaper rate. While ticket sales were strong, with the Super Pass selling out on Monday, none of the remaining events had sold out at the time of Critic going to print, as had been the case in previous years. However, this could have been attributed to the increased capacity of Forsyth Barr Stadium as the O-Week venue of choice.

Monday saw the week’s events begin with Dunedin City Mayor Dave Cull, University of Otago Vice-Chancellor Harlene Hayne and OUSA President Ruby Sycamore-Smith officially welcoming the thousands of first-year students to the city. The welcome flowed on to Hypnotist Guy Cater’s long established show; with first-years watching their day-old friends awkwardly make the transformation to clucking ducks and aspiring male ballerinas.

The following evening saw another successful Toga Party take place with around 3,000 freshers donning their hall sheets and heading off to celebrate to resident Toga Party stalwarts Swaren and 50Cal. One over-zealous bystander tipped Critic off that she had spotted a “drug dog” sniffing the sea of Caesars who were en route to the stadium. However, her reporting prowess merely revealed that she had been watching too many episodes of Border Security, and the spritely beagle was far from trained in the art of drug detection. The only dampener on the evening came in the form of the five noise complaints that followed the event, despite efforts to keep noise down at the Stadium following similar issues in the past.

The usual comedy night saw OUSA and TV comedy show 7 Days join forces in a live filming of their Friday night show, with over 4,500 people attending. The filming for the first episode of the new season took about three hours but was hailed one of the “best comedy shows we’ve ever had.” The all-star cast included usual favourites Paul Ego, Dai Henwood, Jeremy Corbett, Urzila Carlson, Steve Wrigley and Chopper.

Winner of Rolling Stone’s award for “best independent release,” Chet Faker and electronic dance music duo Hermitude were Thursday night’s headliners, and arguably the highlight of the week in terms of international acts. The evening was attended by around 4,200 and was a true crowd pleaser, with hits such as “No Diggity” among the set list.

OUSA anticipated over 6,000 attendees at Friday night’s gig, featuring “New Zealand’s Nickelback” Six60, with David Dallas and the Daylight Robbery and Dunedin locals Summer Thieves also padding out the night of New Zealand’s current music favourites. Six60 made a nostalgia-minded visit to their namesake flat on Castle St mid-week and announced a “secret show” via Facebook at Starters Bar on Thursday evening, after doing a similar stunt prior to performing at Homegrown 2014. A limited number of 300 tickets were available in the two hours prior to the gig on a “first in, first served” basis.

Prior to O-Week, Dunedin Hospital and police anticipated a smooth Orientation thanks to fear tactics from the Proctor that had resulted in better behaviour in recent years. Southern District Health Board executive director of patient services Lexie O’Shea said the emergency department no longer had extra staff on during O-Week thanks to OUSA’s careful organisation of events. Talking to the ODT, O’Shea said, “OUSA utilised good strategies to reduce the impact upon services like the emergency department over the past few years, therefore we now staff our department as we normally would for a normal week.” However, the department did take the precaution of placing staff on call to deal with any unforeseen increase in activity.

The success of the week will only be complimented after OUSA secured Britain’s Tinie Tempah and Chase & Status to perform at Forsyth Barr for the After Party on 6 March.
This article first appeared in Issue 1, 2014.
Posted 6:57pm Sunday 23rd February 2014 by Claudia Herron.