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.

 

 

 

Otago vice-chancellor accused of stealing bongs from student flats

What is it with universities these days? Massey has had it’s problems with theor vice-chancellor and Don Brash and free speech, and Victoria has been trying to push through an unpopular name change.

And at Otago the proctor has been reported to be going into student flats uninvited and taking away bongs.

Critic Te Arohi:  Proctor Enters Flat Without Permission, Steals Bongs

A Leith Street flat says University Proctor Dave Scott trespassed and stole their property when he entered their house while they were out and took several bongs/water pipes.

About three weeks ago, the Proctor was visiting flats on Castle Street and Leith Street North to deliver letters about initiations. The entire flat was away, apart from one person who was asleep upstairs. The flatmates said the Proctor let himself in through the unlocked back door, where he found several water pipes sitting out on a table and took them.

Because they weren’t home, the flatmates didn’t know what had happened to the pipes and assumed they had been robbed. They estimated the pipes were worth $400.

“We thought someone had stolen them, but then we thought that if anyone had done it around Castle/Leith someone would recognise our pipes as they are well known,” one flatmate said.

The Proctor returned the next day, and told them that he had gone into their flat and confiscated the pipes. According to the flatmates, he told them that as long as they cleaned up the flat, he would let them off with a warning and wouldn’t take it to the police.

That attracted wider media coverage, and then a follow up: Second Flat Claims Proctor Entered Home Without Permission, Took Bongs

A second flat is alleging that University of Otago Proctor Dave Scott entered their home without permission while everyone was out and took their bongs. This comes soon after Critic reported that the Proctor entered a Leith Street North flat three weeks ago while no one was home and took $400 worth of bongs.

According to one flatmate, who asked to remain anonymous, the Proctor visited their Castle Street flat in June, when no one was home, to pick up rubbish in the area. While he was there, he took two bongs, which had been sitting in the lounge, around the back of the flat.

The flat is privately owned. The flatmates said the bongs were “valued at over $300 combined.”

They said that one flatmate was called into the Proctor’s office for a meeting, where he was asked “what they were and why we have them etc.,” and ultimately let off with a warning.

“As an ex cop we feel as if he should be more educated around the law of breaking and entering, especially taking items out of the flat with no permission. If we walked into his house or even his office and took something which we feel is illegal, then it would be a different outcome,” he said.

And it could be more widespread:

Hey so I have had 4 more reports of flats having bongs fuckin stolen by the proctor so far this year.

Anyone looking to share their stories on this abuse of power please email: critic@critic.co.nz

This is absolutely fucked and we have to stand up to this fucking authoritarian repression

Update: I have a meeting to discuss this issue with the proctor tomorrow, and depending whether he agrees to sign our Code of Proctor Conduct, will be organising a protest on Thursday with specific demands and outcomes.

get ready to get on the fkn rark fam.

Update 2: Proctor cancelled our meeting. Protest is on:

Protest details:

So the proctor cancelled his meeting with me tomorrow.

This means we need another outlet to have our voices heard, to express how we feel about this abuse of power.

For those that don’t know, the proctor has been randomly entering flats by the back door, sometimes with noone home, and been pinching beugs.

This is an abuse of our rights as students, and as citizens, and unless we respond it sets a dangerous authoritarian precedent. We need to let the University of Otago know this is not appropriate behaviour of someone purportedly representing our institution.

We will gather at the corner of Castle and Dundas, on the uni drive, march down to the proctors office, then head round to the clocktower where we will submit our proposed Students of North Dunedin Code of Proctor Conduct:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1lQGETJKgmVzsQ6wz5P60x_lkzzbr0X0FHkV7HbJRA6Q/edit

Chants and sign planz to come, feel free to chip in w ideas too x

This is gonna be so dope, get ready to rark it up yo for all the breathas to come: FIGHT FOR OUR RIGHTS ♥

It seems likely Critic will have more to say about this. If the proctor is entering flats uninvited, and if he is taking thingd, this is a serious matter.