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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 34, Number 12. June 16, 1971

Otago Revolt

Otago Revolt

* "Misconduct includes... any conduct which is unbecoming to members of the University.

* "The student shall not...be entitled to be represented by agent or counsel.

* "Where the Proctor has reasonable grounds for believing that a disturbance is taking place he may take appropriate action including entry into a student residence.

* "Drunkedness...will be regarded by the Council as a ground for severe disciplinary action.

This is what the University of Otago intended for students. The University Council wished to "protect students" by the introduction of such repugnant legislation.

The extracts quoted above are only examples of the disciplinary regulations which the Vice-Chancellor Dr Williams and the Council pushed through two weeks ago. Discussion at Council and at other preliminary bodies on he regulations was unable to be transmitted to students for their opinions because the whole of the proceedings were in closed committee.

Immediately the Council released the proposed regulations, however, student opposition manifested itself in the form of daily forums, "action" committees, a telephone campaign to individual council members asking why they supported the regulations.

The issue became one of national concern when Otago's President Ebraima Manneh raised the matter at an NZUSA National Executive meeting at Christchurch over Queen's Birthday weekend. A three hour discussion resulted in the unanimous condemnation of the actions of the Otago Council and the Vice Chancellor in particular.

The degree of solidarity can be seen by the following motions from the meeting.

1. That the President of NZUSA make strong representations to the Vice-Chancellor of Otago, stating NZUSA policy against interference in private lives of students and drawing attention especially to the intolerable definition of "misconduct" and to the powers given to the Proctor in respect of both internal and external discipline regulations and to support OUSA's insistence on the suspension of the regulations until full consultation with the student body has taken place.


2. That NZUSA National Executive deplore the attitude of the University of Otago Vice-Chancellor, in his handling of the negotiation of the new Discipline regulations at the University of Otago, and consequently questions his suitability for the post of Director-General of Education.


3. That NZUSA condemns the irresponsible attitude of the University of Otago Council and its failure to respond to the Student Association concern (expressed through the proper channels) over the university's blatant disregard in the new Discipline regulations for basic civil liberties; and That NZUSA make clear its view that such action by the University encourages open dissent by students, debases the credibility of the University and is "unbecoming" to the good name of the University.


4. That we members of the NZUSA National Executive (consisting of the Presidents of all New Zealand University Students Associations and the Officers of NZUSA) do unanimously support Otago students in their stand over the discipline regulations.


All Four Motions Carried Unanimously

NZUSA President David Cuthbert was directed to implement the policy of the meeting, however, on Tuesday 8th, immediately after the meeting, the Otago Executive invited Constituent Presidents to Dunedin to observe and help Otago students in their struggle. This resulted in David Cuthbert, President of NZUSA, David Caygill, President of Canterbury and Graeme Collins, President of Victoria travelling down on Wednesday.

The same day a Council member, and local mayor, Barnes told students at forum that "every society is governed by rules" that dissatisfaction with the proposed regulations was only felt by a small minority of students. Unfortunately for Mr Barnes, when a vote was taken, only 3 of the 1,000 students present appeared to agree with him.

By this time the Association had organised and distributed a referendum and when Cuthbert, Caygill and Collins arrived they visited lectures urging students to answer the referendum and acquainting them with the reasons for the three presidents presence.

On the Thursday morning Vice-Chancellor Williams was contacted by Manneh and Cuthbert but refused to speak to the 4 Presidents until an apology had been made by the National Executive for the motion passed concerning him and his "misconduct" (i.e. conduct unbecoming to members of the University). Anyway he was "too busy" (the matter was not important) and he wouldn't have time to see anybody until "sometime next week" at the earliest and probably then only one person.

He also said that "I and members of the Council do not consider this is a matter for NZUSA." This in spite of the invitation to Presidents and the telegrams of support for Otago Students Association from all the University Students' Associations and 3 M.P's (Amos, Findlay and Hunt).

At Thursday's Forum Cuthbert, Caygill and Collins were among the speakers, to the 1,800 assembled. The meeting heard the telegrams and was told of the recent events and Dr. Williams refusal. It was this that finally sparked off the demonstration. Those present felt that Williams action was an insult to them and their representatives.

Manneh was dispatched with the direction to phone Williams with an ultimatum - either he saw the 4 Presidents or the Registry would be "visited" by those at the meeting.

The phone call brought a totally unsatisfactory reply, a vote was taken to determine that dissatisfaction did not lie with a small minority of students and at 1.50pm except for 10 students all those present left on the march to the Registry. Later this number was swelled to over 2,100 -over one third of the total student enrolement - as more students heard of the protest. Classes and lectures were cancelled, one lecturer commenting that the presence at the Registry was "far more important".

Once occupation was taken up Cuthbert warned students that the protest was to be "peaceful and level-headed"—there was to be no damage.

The Registrar, Dr. Hayward, arrived and ordered out those present in the Vice-Chancellor's office. This didn't seem to work so he summoned Prof Parton, the Pro Vice-Chancellor, who, when he arrived, had as much luck as the Registrar.

Photo of three people

At first they stated that they would discuss the matter only if the outsiders Cuthbert Caygill and Collins left. They refused. Thencertain members of the Otago Executive, who had been notably absent during the march on the registry, came on the scene and started page break back-tracking. They decided that they would now take over the negotiations, the first point being the removal of Cuthbert, Caygill and Collins. President Manneh disagreed with his Executive and went to the protesters and informed them of the Exec's intent.

There was universal support for the three presidents continued presence and participation in negotiations.

Cuthbert placed the demands before Parton and Hayward.

(1)Suspension of the new regulations
(2)No disciplinary action against any protestor.
(3)A committee to be set up to completely reformulate the disciplinary regulations. The committee to comprise equal representation of students and University with an independant Chairman.
(4)An immediate and open Council meeting to be
(4)An immediate and open Council meeting to set up the committee.

(The first demand was later dropped as it was ascertained that the new regulations were not yet in force.)

In attempting to negotiate the demands for the Committee and the Council meeting, confusion set in as various local Exec members attempted to water-down demands and accommodate the Registry officials. The students however were having none of this and elected Cuthbert and Manneh as their sole spokesmen.

The Registrar was instructed to contact Chancellor Sidey and get him to call an open emergency meeting of University Council. Sidey agreed and Parton and Hayward said that they would support an open meeting of Council and would also support the setting up of a committee with 50/50 representation. Having obtained satisfaction in these demands, one remained - for Vice-Chancellor Williams to appear and talk to the four Presidents to mitigate the insult made that morning. The protestors also wanted Williams personal commitment for their demands.

After news broadcasts for over 2 hours stating the demands a white-faced and very distraught Williams appeared. He listened to an account of the events so far and the demands. He agreed to support an open meeting of council and the 50/50 committee and the reporting back of the committee to an open council meeting.

During the course of discussions with him Williams objected to the presence of a T.V. sound camera but changed his stand when the students protested and agreed to hold a press conference after the building was cleared.

At 4.30 the protestors left the building satisfied that their demands had been met. Some students remained behind to clean and sweep the building and generally tidy up the accumulation from the 2½ hour occupation. There was little damage - scratches on a table being the worst -and the association undertook to remedy this.

"The whole affair demonstrates just how far an administration and a vice-chancellor can get out of touch with not only student opinion but also staff opinion," Graeme Collins said after the event. "This would not happen at Victoria with the channels of communication and cooperation that exist. It seems incredible to me that the Otago Council and Dr Williams thought they could get away with the new regulations."

"The fact is that joint committees of students and administration may exist at Otago but when student opinion isn't taken notice of and regulations bulldozed through, the farce of the structure becomes apparant. The blame lies with the university not the students."

David Cuthbert replying to Dr Williams attempt to place the blame on the three "outside" Presidents and NZUSA said "It was Dr Williams through his self-imposed isolation who precipitated the whole affair. He was just not aware of the depth of student concern. The Vice-Chancellor demands an apology from the National Executive for their statements about him. The stand by the Executive would seem to be correct. The behaviour of Dr Williams strengthens the Executive's belief that his handling of the whole affair does anything but inspire confidence in his ability for the post of Director-General of Education for which he is currently designated."

"Our only hope now," said Graeme Collins, "is that the Otago Executive will not crumble or back-track. It has strong student support - one of the strongest I have seen - but it is also in danger of losing that support if the executive tries to compromise the students' position."

As a final note, on the Saturday after the protest, the following telegram was received by NZUSA:

The two thousand students who marched on the Registry in protest against the discipline regulations at Otago and the Vice-Chancellor's refusal to meet the National Executive delegation wish to convey to the National Executive, Constituent Executive and to every student at every university in New Zealand their deepest appreciation for the leadership and support that we have received from you all. We note that the inspiration and leadership provided at our Thursday forum by your telegrams of support and solidarity and by the presence of the National President and the Presidents from Victoria and Canterbury provided much of the stimulus needed to initiate the march. We ask you to convey this message of thanks to all students at your earliest convenience. The two thousand will not easily forget that student solidarity is alive and living in New Zealand. - signed Mike Anderson, Otago.

Photo of men

5. 'Misconduct' includes any conduct by a student which disrupts or interferes with the functioning of the University or the academic work or well being of its members or any conduct which is Unbecoming to Members of the University. Without in any way limiting the scope of this definition any breach of the regulations contained in Parts IX and X and of the Regulations on Alcohol at Student Functions shall be deemed to be misconduct.

3. In a case where the Executive deals with a matter referred to it by a student, the Provost may take further action himself, or refer the matter to the Board of Discipline if he considers that an inappropriate decision or punishment has been made.

4. Any student who has been instructed or punished by the Students' Executive has the right to appeal in writing to the Provost within seven days of being so instructed or punished. The Provost may investigate the matter and confirm the instruction or punishment or vary it in such manner as he thinks fit.

3. (i) The Provost has complete power to make formal or informal enquiry under these Regulations and either in the presence or the absence of the student. The student shall not on such enquiry be entitled to be represented by agent or counsel but he shall not be dealt with without being adequately informed of the nature of the charges and offered a reasonable opportunity of being heard.

The Proctor

1. The Council may from time to time appoint an officer known as the Proctor, or any other officer, to investigate complaints from students or others into alleged cases of misconduct either in any premises or in a public place.

2. Any officer so authorised may take such action as shall in his opinion be reasonable and necessary in the circumstances, including, if he thinks fit, calling the police. He may require any student to supply his or her name and address and may report the names and circumstances to either the Provost, or if he thinks fit, to the Executive for further action. Failure on the part of a student to supply his name and address at the request of the Proctor shall be deemed to be misconduct.

3. The Proctor shall have the right of entry into the residences of students only if he has written authority to enter for a specified purpose, such authority to be signed by the Provost or Vice-Chancellor, and only if an occupant of such residence is present. Without such authority the Proctor shall be obliged to inform the occupants of such residence that he has no right of entry unless the occupants give their permission for him to enter. However, where the Proctor has reasonable grounds for believing that a disturbance is taking place he may take appropriate action, including entry into a student residence to interview the occupants, provided that at the first opportunity a report is made to the Provost and to the President of the Otago University Students' Association Incorporated.

8. The Registrar, under the direction of the Chairman of the Board of Discipline, shall give to any student whose conduct is to be subject of any enquiry by the Board, not less than three days' written notice setting forth the nature of the misconduct charged against such student with such particulars of date and place as may be reasonable under the circumstances. The Board may, if it thinks fit, grant further time to the student and may adjourn the proceedings from time to time.

14. The Registrar shall act as Secretary to the Board. He shall issue to members of the Board, students, witnesses, prosecutors and others, such notices as these Regulations, the Chairman or the Chancellor shall direct. He shall attend every enquiry held by the Board, and, under direction of the Chairman, shall keep minutes of all the Board's proceedings which shall record the nature of any alleged misconduct enquired into by the Board, the effect of all evidence received by the Board, and the terms of every decision come to by the Board. He shall also file all documentary matter used at every enquiry that the Board is free to retain.

6. Any money payment imposed under these regulations, except fines levied by the Executive, shall be paid to the Registrar within twenty-one (21) days and shall form part of the funds of the University. If payment is not made within that time or any extended time that may be granted by the Chairman of the Board of Discipline or by the Provost, the student in default shall not be deemed to have kept terms for the year in which the payment was imposed, and shall be excluded from the precincts of the University.

7. It is the duty of all students, members of the teaching staff, and servants of the University, to attend before the Provost or the Vice-Chancellor or before the Board of Discipline when required to do so. Neglect of this duty by a student is misconduct within these Regulations.

Places of Residence for Students

1. No student may reside in any premises other than the home of the student's parents or guardians, of which the Council upon such grounds as it thinks fit disapproves as a place of residence for such student.

3. The Proctor is always ready to assist the occupiers of student flats in preventing a public disturbance which causes annoyance to neighbours and other students. Students are invited to give the Proctor prior notice of any parties which may attract the attention of unwelcome gate-crashers. As a rule the student occupiers of flats will be held responsible for misconduct which originates from their premises, especially in cases where the assistance of the Proctor has not been sought in advance. See also Section VII.

In respect of dances the following additional conditions apply:
(a)The only liquor consumed at the dance shall be supplied pursuant to the permit.
(b)No liquor shall be taken into the premises by any guest or other person while the dance is being held.

Not more than one permit in respect of a dance shall be granted in any year to any one

15. Drunkedness or any breaches of the licensing laws will be regarded by the Council as a ground for severe disciplinary action.

Photo of a student sit-in