Campus Watch accuses student of being a “gang member”

Campus Watch has been accused of harassing and abusing a University of Otago student based on his appearance resembling that of a gang member. According to student Chris Boyd a Campus Watch officer approached him and proceeded to question his status as a University of Otago student saying he “looked like a gang member”. 

Chris Boyd was sitting with a friend outside the OUSA recreation centre on Albany Street last week when a campus watch officer named Lynn approached him and begun to question whether he was a student or part of a gang due to his appearance.

“[She said] ‘excuse me are you a student here?’ And she kept going on in that vain for about a minute [saying] ‘are you a real student at this university, or are you a gang member?”

“I said I was a fourth year social work student. [She then] asked me to come for a walk down the street —to get me away from the guy I was sitting beside I guess – and I thought that was because I said I was a social work student and she might have a personal issue or problem [which she wanted to talk about].”

“So we took a few steps down the street and she just kept going in the same vain – ‘so you’re not a gang member? Because I thought of all your rings and your boots, it’s just the way you look. You a real student?’ On and on it went,” says Boyd

The fourth year Social Work student says he begun to tell the Campus Watch officer that he felt he was being discriminated against, however this awarded no change in the officer’s inferences.

“I said to her ‘do you know how offensive this is? It’s discrimination’, [she said] ‘no no I’m just asking if you’re a student’.”

“She was not just asking that, she was implying a whole lot of things. I said to her ‘do you understand I’m feeling offended?’; she didn’t understand that at all. Then she asked for my last name and I said no you can’t [have it].”

Following the incident Mr Boyd complained to Campus Watch about the incident. According to Mr Boyd another Campus Watch officer named Steve contacted him hoping to resolve the dispute, yet continued to imply the student’s appearance warranted the inquiry. 

“I went and complained at the campus watch office and the next day her boss rang me and said ‘do you want to meet up and have a talk?’ So I met him and that went about as well as the first incident with the woman really.”

When asked by Mr Boyd if the Campus Watch officer was wrong to infer wrongdoing from his appearance the officer named Steve responded saying “well I wouldn’t say she did anything wrong… you do fit the mould”. 

The Proctor’s office was unable to comment on the incident or confirm whether a report had been filed. However, recently resigned Proctor Dave Miller said he was “unaware” of the incident.

University Proctor Dave Miller departed the role last week following his resignation earlier this year. Deputy Proctor Andrew Ferguson will take over the role. 

This article first appeared in Issue 9, 2016.
Posted 10:30am Sunday 1st May 2016 by Henry Napier.