Otago University proctor admits he was wrong to enter flats and remove bongs

After a growing student protest over the Otago University proctor entering at least one flat uninvited and removing bongs – legal to own but illegal to use with cannabis – the proctor Dave Scott has fessed up today.

ODT:  ‘I was wrong’ – Proctor

University of Otago proctor Dave Scott has acknowledged he was wrong to enter a flat while no-one was home and confiscate bongs, but says he doesn’t think his actions make him a criminal.

“I’m a human and I have made an error of judgement on this occasion [and] I’ve apologised to the flat in question this afternoon for what I did.

“I have made a mistake here and I am willing to learn from it.”

Asked if he broke the law, he said he was not above scrutiny and acknowledged he was wrong.

“Does that make me a criminal? I don’t believe so.

“This was a situation that could have been dealt with differently.”

However this could be a confession to committing a criminal act.

Vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne said the university still had “full confidence” in Mr Scott, saying he had assured her he would not repeat the mistake.

“I have discussed the proctor’s actions with him and he agrees this will not happen again.

“In my experience of the proctor on so many occasions he always has the students’ best interests at heat, and has worked extremely hard to ensure students are treated fairly while they are here.”

But there is a lack of confidence amongst students. Stuff (before the confession and apology): Private prosecution pending against University of Otago’s bong-taking proctor

Thousands of dollars have been pledged to mount a private prosecution against the bong-taking University of Otago proctor.

The tertiary institution is standing by Dave Scott, a former police officer, who removed drug-taking equipment from at least four student flats.

Hundreds have signed a petition calling for Scott’s immediate resignation though, and a private prosecution against him is pending.

Whakamana Cannabis Museum curator Abe Gray said a cannabis supporter known to him had pledged $25,000 to take a private prosecution.

Otago law professor Andrew Geddis: Hey, proctor, leave our bongs alone: How Otago’s ‘campus cop’ is breaking the law

We start with the fact that the proctor simply is a university employee who, while holding some disciplinary powers over students, enjoys no more legal right to visit their residences, search them and seize property than does any other citizen. And, as other legal academics have told the ODT, those legal rights simply do not extend to going into someone’s house to take what you think may be evidence of criminal behaviour.

Or, to put it more bluntly, what the proctor did was clearly unlawful and at least potentially criminal. The fact he did so with proclaimed good intentions does not change this conclusion.

In my view, there’s no reasonable argument to be made that students consuming cannabis in their own living room has “a sufficient nexus to the legitimate concerns of the university” to justify the code’s application. Simply put, while smoking cannabis in your own home may (stupidly) still be illegal, doing so is none of the university’s business and so the proctor has no disciplinary authority over those who choose to consume.

But here’s the problem. If the proctor is going to act as a paternalistic morals police over what students do in their own homes, then students really need to ask whether they want that form of governance over their lives. And if they don’t, then they ought to take action to prevent it.

Because the proctor (and all other university employees) only may enter onto student property under the general “implied licence” that applies to all visitors. This is the general legal presumption that an occupier will permit people to walk up to their front door in order to communicate with them

However, that implied licence may be expressly revoked at any time. If the occupier tells someone (or, even the world at large) “you may not come onto my property”, then the presumed legal right to visit disappears.

So, if students do not want the proctor (or other university employees) to know what they are doing in their homes, much less intervene by taking things he disapproves of, then they can tell him that. An email to his office informing him that he is not permitted to enter a particular flat’s grounds. A notice in the flat’s front window telling him that he (or other university employees) cannot be on the property.

There have been signs of a ‘keep away sign’ campaign, but that could be dependant on whether the proctor makes a solid commitment to respect the private dwellings and property of students.

 

 

 

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10 Comments

  1. nasska

     /  September 25, 2018

    I note that the Proctor was a Police Senior Sergeant. Perhaps he is another ex officer who finds the transition from a position of authority to that of a normal citizen to be difficult.

    Reply
  2. Blazer

     /  September 25, 2018

    he is the archetypal..’pale,male,stale…’ a short back and sides, suited,presbyterian straight out of the ’60’s..

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  September 25, 2018

      Yep. probably has a wife. Kids that are looked after. And isn’t a DRAG on society. Doesn’t get wasted on drugs…you know, all the boring stuff, Blazer. Not a transsexual in sight.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  September 25, 2018

        living the American dream eh Corky…the poor deluded fuck…wife wonders ..’is this it’?

        Reply
  3. There is a petition on Change.org
    calling for him to resign

    If a stranger walked into the flat & did this, they would be charged with criminal offences; unlawful entry & theft/destruction of private property !

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  September 25, 2018

      Yes it’s a difficult situation. If they’re unwilling to accept his mea culpa – best solved by the affected students requesting the police to prosecute him, perhaps?

      Reply
    • patupaiarehe

       /  September 26, 2018

      If a stranger walked into their flat & did this Zedd, I strongly suspect that the police WOULD NOT have been involved!

      “I have discussed the proctor’s actions with him and he agrees this will not happen again.
      “In my experience of the proctor on so many occasions he always has the students’ best interests at heart, and has worked extremely hard to ensure students are treated fairly while they are here.”

      Perhaps Zedd, he should have stopped & stepped outside upon seeing the bongs, & promptly summoned the police for assistance, so that said bongs could be forensically tested for cannabis residue, and the ‘offenders’ held to account before a judge.

      Reply
      • patupaiarehe

         /  September 26, 2018

        If they are thick enough to leave their pot smoking equipment in plain sight on their coffee table, they should consider themselves VERY fortunate that the proctor found it (and disposed of it), rather than an ambitious young constable…

        Reply
        • patupaiarehe

           /  September 26, 2018

          These stoners want to make a big deal out of getting caught out by the proctor, due to their own neglect of ‘covering their tracks’. They currently enjoy the cloak of anonymity, whilst the proctor doesn’t. Its only a matter of time before the whole internet knows their identity. Good luck with gaining post-graduate employment guys….
          The proctor did them a favour by not narcing on them. Yet they still have the nerve to complain?! FFS!

          Reply
  4. Kitty Catkin

     /  September 26, 2018

    Yes, they do seem to want to have a bob each way, Patu.

    Reply

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