Before this year’s O-Week, Vice-Chancellor Harlene Hayne sent a letter to all Dunedin secondary schools asking them to encourage their students to stay away from university parties.
The letter was a response to Campus Watch reporting an alarming rise in uninvited high school students crashing uni student parties. In the letter Hayne said that it was especially problematic in streets immediately adjacent to the main campus.
She said the University is “very concerned about under-age drinking and the safety of these young people, and others, on our campus,” particular as student parties don’t usually involve a lot of planning or interventions to prevent shit from hitting the fan. She said in February that it was fortunate no major harm had happened yet.
Hayne went on to say that if Campus Watch found high schoolers drinking at student parties, that they would call the police for under-age drinking.
Critic contacted several Dunedin high schools for comment on whether they have identified any issues with their students attending uni parties. At time of print, only Otago Boys’ High School responded. OBHS Rector, Richard Hall, confirmed he had received Hayne’s letter and “continued with our education regarding being a good man through socially responsible behaviours”.
But, Hall said that in his personal experience “as soon as we ban something then it becomes more enticing”. He then clapped back at the Uni saying he would “like the same courtesy in regards to the University discouraging ex-pupils from attending sports fixtures at our school with alcohol”.
He said that in the last three weekends, University students had turned up to OBHS sports games with alcohol, resulting in the school having to hire security to enforce their no-alcohol rules.
Students Critic spoke with confirmed the presence of high school students at student parties. One student who wished to go unnamed said “the last few Agnew Streets I’ve seen so many high schoolers. Pretty sure my mate got with a 16-year-old.”
Shannon, a fifth-year student, said she’d been at plenty of parties where high schoolers were in attendance. “Everyone's main question was ‘why are you here this is not for you’. You’ll be able to do this in a few years just step the fuck down and wait your turn.”
A third year student and Dunedin local said “It’s also really easy to go to uni parties when you grow up in Dunedin because your friends a year or two older are at uni and have flats and stuff. I remember going to a party at the Debacle flat when I was in year 13 and honestly there is no way to tell if someone is a high schooler, I just told people I was a health sci.”
In an exclusive interview, Critic Editor and Dunedin local Charlie O’Mannin reflected on his experiences as a youth. He said, “I definitely crashed student parties in high school; I’m remembering real awkward experiences now. I don’t wanna talk about it on the record.”