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March 2, 2009 | by  | in News |
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Ordinary night in Dunedin somehow makes news

Dunedin welcomed new students with a spectacular toga parade last Tuesday night. The parade was well-attended by around 2000 students, 20 members of the local constabulary, and an uncertain number of onlookers, about 100 of whom, in a quaint Southern custom, showered the “freshers” with eggs, water-bombs, rubbish, vomit, and faecal matter instead of the more conventional ticker tape and confetti.

Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Gareth Jones criticised the festivity’s “degeneration” and “student misbehaviour” while the Otago Daily Times (ODT) contrasted the event with last year’s parade, which was characterised by comparatively good cheer and hygiene.

A breakdown in communication has been blamed for around 2000 first years arriving an hour before the parade was due to start. Critic understands a number of University colleges were incorrectly informed of a 6.15pm meeting time while the remainder of colleges were told 7.00pm, which casts a pall over the otherwise steadfast method of organising things on Facebook. OUSA President Edwin Darlow attributed the chaos to “non-participants” who lined the streets and balconies of the flats above George Street, confused by the fact that people lined the streets to see a parade in Dunedin.

Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Gareth Jones blamed “several factors which resulted in the parade’s degeneration and led to subsequent student misbehaviour: fine weather after several rainy days, confusion over the parade’s start time, and harassment by non-parade participants.” Sunny weather, of course, is recognised as the leading cause of hijinks.

togaparty

Jones says what occurred was completely unacceptable. “We intend to establish precisely what occurred, how it differed from previous years and what needs to happen to avoid any repetition,” he says, ignoring the fact that a bunch of douchebags got hammered and did as douchebags do. “Dunedin is a gracious host to its student community and we will be sending a clear message to those responsible that this behaviour is totally unacceptable. It is too early to say what form that ‘message’ will take,” but users could expect an additional notification on Facebook in the coming days.

This year’s media coverage ridiculously focused on negative aspects of the parade. The Australian news media labelled the extravaganza “a toga party that even the Romans would have been ashamed of,” ignoring virtually everything known about Roman culture.

Dunedin City Councillors Dave Cull and Chris Staynes were interrupted during a wine tasting above Munslows Fine Wines and came out to survey the carnage caused by frolicking toga wearers and bystanders. The ODT described Cull as “furious” and he questioned the behaviour of students and bystanders in what can only really be described as a pornographic orgy of excess the likes of which can only be conveyed by two blonde “actresses” named Ashley and Tiffany: “Why should we tolerate this here? I don’t think there would be anywhere that this would be tolerated … [with the exception, of course, of Dune—oh, wait. MJO] why should we allow people to throw eggs and litter down our main street and then expect the city to pay to clean it up?”

Three people were arrested by police for disorderly behaviour which was otherwise hilarious; however, at this point it is not known whether this is a mitigating circumstance. Campus Cop Max Holt (real name) says he was disappointed that the parade, which welcomes the students into Dunedin, was blown apart by a very irresponsible few who ambushed the students, but that he has high hopes for the year despite the chaos of Tuesday’s parade.

Many students have expressed concern that the toga parade and ensuing media coverage will negatively impact the University and the value of their degrees. As they’re studying in Dunedin, this point is moot.

STORY ORIGINALLY BY Helena de Reus of CRITIC, re-written by Michael Oliver and BK Drinkwater of Salient.

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Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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