The Society of Otago University Law Students (SOULS) have got more than 200 people to submit their experiences of Law Camps in protest after a draft review of Law Camps was released that only drew on interviews with five former attendees.
A review of Law Camp was commissioned from Dunedin barrister David Sim after allegations of debauchery, drunkenness and nudity embarrassed Otago Uni and led to the camp being cancelled back in March. Former Dean Mark Henaghan’s attendance at Law Camp was also questioned.
If you want to stall a lawyer, criticise the process. SOULS used this classic technique and expressed concerns about the review process, after which they were asked to provide feedback on a draft copy of Sim’s Review. In particular, they questioned the fact that Sim’s review was based on interviews with only five students and one parent conducted by the University. SOULS said over 6000 students have attended the camp since its inception, so the small number of interviews made it “very difficult to fairly and accurately represent the experiences of the majority”.
SOULS also criticised the draft report’s focus on alcohol, sexualised behaviour and pressure rather than community service, sports, collegiality and friendship, which they see as also part of the camp.
In protest of the review, SOULS created its own online survey of Law Camp through a Google Form that was open to unlimited responses and did not require proof of law student status. SOULS President Tim Austen said 235 responses were received from past and present students, which were “overwhelmingly positive”.
Tim said SOULS “will be providing a further response to the draft Review and the student feedback will likely form part of this response. It makes sense to summarise the feedback [and] data received and also attach the submissions in full as an appendix”.
SOULS said it would need to see a final copy of the Review before deciding whether to support the Review being released publicly.