Otago University students will be subject to University discipline on and off campus, after the University Council voted last Tuesday to implement an unamended version of the controversial Code of Conduct.
The move came as a surprise to the Otago University Students’ Association executive, who believed that an amended code was going to be put forward at the meeting. Lawyers for OUSA and the university had earlier reached an agreement on changes to the wording of the code.
However, Vice-Chancellor David Skegg unexpectedly went back on the agreement because he was concerned by media reports claiming that the University was backing down on the code. An appearance that the code was being “watered down” would be the “worst possible message,” he said at the Council meeting.
The amended version of the code would have limited the University’s ability to impose disciplinary measures on students’ behaviour off campus, but the University agreed to endorse the amendment only on the condition that it was not leaked to the media. Skegg believed that OUSA had broken that confidentiality agreement, so he would not be recommending any amendments to the code as passed by the University senate last month.
Chong said after the meeting that OUSA intends to continue to challenge the Code, and is likely to take a test case to the High Court the first time the University attempts to implement the Code off-campus.