Students to storm Campus Watch

This comes from today's ODT plus the comments so far off their website, their editor hasn't allowed any of my comments to be published so far - Abe

Students to storm Campus Watch

By Sarah Harvey on Wed, 28 May 2008
University of Otago

University of Otago students are today expected to storm the Campus Watch offices in protest at what they say is harassment and intimidation of students.

But the university says it will not tolerate "illegal" activity on campus and any protest will be met with a police response.

Abe Gray, president of the Otago branch of marijuana law reform group Norml, said Campus Watch officers were becoming the "Dunedin Gestapo".

"Campus Watch is not here to help students or to keep them safe. They are here to intimidate them and force them to fall in line or face punishment," Otago Norml said in an email to its supporters yesterday.

Campus Watch is a 24-hour seven-day-a-week operation using up to 50 officers. They have patrolled North Dunedin streets since February last year and are credited with reducing disorder.

However, Otago University Students Association president Simon Wilson said since Campus Watch had taken over the university's security services, it had stopped looking after students and started trying to trip them up.

"They are there to keep students in line. The original thinking behind Campus Watch was that they were a friendly group, giving students advice. Now, they are much more of an enforcement group."

There had been evidence of officers following students because they thought they were suspicious, or being overbearing in their dealing with students.

Mr Gray said Campus Watch officers had recently started "targeting and persecuting" students who smoked cannabis.

He said a male student was arrested for possessing cannabis on Monday after a Campus Watch officer alerted police. The student was "illegally searched", Mr Gray said, and found to have a pipe and cannabis in his pockets.

This followed another incident where a Campus Watch officer allegedly "harassed" a student studying in the main library because he had gone out to have a joint in his break.

"Campus Watch is not contributing positively to the university environment and they need to be sent a very strong message that these type of actions are unacceptable."

Mr Wilson said the "student body" had asked for the protest and it would be followed by a formal approach to the university. The group was to gather on the Union Lawn at 4.30pm and walk to the offices. He expected more than 100 people to be involved.

University Student Services director David Richardson said through an emailed statement:"As we have consistently stated, the university does not tolerate illegal activity on campus and the police will be called to deal with this activity when it occurs."

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Submitted by asturneresquire on Thu, 29/05/2008 - 10:43pm.

David Richardson said "As we have consistently stated, the university does not tolerate illegal activity on campus and the police will be called to deal with this activity when it occurs."
Obviously the university does indeed tolerate illegal activity on campus. Marijuana is smoked on campus EVERYDAY, and NORML has a public gathering at 4:20 every Wednesday and Friday . . . These gatherings have been happening for over 3 years, and they are advertised and have been discussed via National media.
An honest response would have been "We try, whenever possible, to minimise bad press."
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Another comment made was "I believe that Mr Gray's comments in no way represent the voice of Otago University students."
Actually OUSA does back Abe and they are the representative voice of Students at Otago ... Perhaps the author feels that the 100+ people who marched with him, chanting and holding signs should be silenced in some way ? Systematically ? Relentlessly ? ...
All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. - Ed. Burke

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Submitted by reid on Thu, 29/05/2008 - 10:50am.

Smoking tobacco or illegal drugs should be banned within 250m of all campus buildings.
Otago University exists to educate - so we can all lead a more rounded productive life.
Smoking and illegal drugs alter minds and over time, reduces the resistance of your immune system.The poor tax payer has to pick up the bill.
I say smokers,illegal drug users and consumers of alcohol should be required to have private medical insurance. Only then, will there be some equity in medical risk profile.

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RE: Students to storm Campus Watch
Submitted by mjanderson on Wed, 28/05/2008 - 6:47pm.

As a student at Otago University, I personally feel a lot safer with Campus Watch around, I support everything they have done in regards to making campus a safer place for all.
To me these claims seem to be unfounded and I do not support the protest that took place today. It seems to portray an image (in the media) that students are somewhat ungrateful for the service they provide to us. I believe that Mr Gray's comments in no way represent the voice of Otago University students.

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Re: Student anger at 'intimidation'
Submitted by dolchhut on Thu, 29/05/2008 - 9:14am.

I support the activities of the Campus Watch, as they are working their best to keep the campus safer. One must understand that Campus Watch cannot control certain things beyond their abilities, and certain bad incidents do happen on campus sometimes, yet the Campus Watch team should be praised and hailed for their efforts. It is really ridiculous for some students trying to claim their "rights" to smoke marijuana. Being the topmost research university of this country, I personally feel that just based on these things, those students (wishing to smoke marijuana) should be rusticated.

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Campus Watch not doing their job
Submitted by Jake Andrew on Wed, 28/05/2008 - 6:01pm.

The University of Otago's website states that Campus Watch's role is meant to be "essentially pastoral - acting as 'walking information booths' on a range of issues, many associated with the transition from Residential Colleges to flatting. These might include education around rubbish recycling, how to extend cooking portfolios from baked beans on toast, and running a good party that's within the law and acceptable to the neighbours."
Not once have I heard of Campus Watch advising anybody on these types of issues. With the involvement of marijuana aside, the behaviour of Campus Watch described by Simon Wilson does not "enhance" student life - as the website also states the group will do.
My own personal experience with Campus Watch saw them trying to assume the role of the police by walking onto private property when the tenants were away to retrieve stolen goods, something I didn't think they would have the power to do.

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Regarding the
Submitted by Velian on Wed, 28/05/2008 - 1:10pm.

Regarding the points outlined: reporting students using illegal drugs, they are illegal. If you don't like it then complain against the law, not those enforcing the law. Not everyone wants to breathe in or even smell the repugnant odour of cannabis.
Campus watch is there to ensure our safety, security guards and police are supposed to follow and investigate suspicious activity, it's their job. If they turned the other way every time something looked dodgy then how on earth can they protect us?
Campus watch are security guards, their job is to keep us safe and ensure we all obey the law, not to make us happy. Get over it.

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Campus watch
Submitted by cindyh on Wed, 28/05/2008 - 11:20am.

I read with interest that Campus Watch are mercilessly persecuting students using marijuana. Come on guys! How can this be! Marijuana use is still illegal, that hardly constitutes persecution, more law enforcement, and yes, laws are designed to keep the rest of us safe!

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How precisely are you less safe?
Submitted by savage_lucy on Wed, 28/05/2008 - 1:12pm.

How, precisely, are you any less safe if a student smokes a joint?

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