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April 16, 2018 | by  | in News Splash |
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Otago Law Dean Steps Down

Mark Henaghan, the Dean of the University of Otago’s Faculty of Law, has stepped down after 19 years in the position and nearly fifty years at the University of Otago.

Henaghan announced in February that he would step down from his role as Dean at the end of 2018, accepting a new professorship at the University of Auckland in order to be closer to family.

Henaghan planned to remain in his position at Otago University until the end of 2018, however he has decided to step down early, a move which comes in the wake of outcry over student law camps which he attended.

Parents raised concerns last year, with more concerns being brought to the University of Otago this year, in the wake of the Russell Mcveagh sexual misconduct scandal involving Victoria University law students.

Otago University decided this year to cancel their annual law camp after revelations came out about drunken behaviour, nudity, and jelly wrestling

Henaghan has said in a press statement that his decision was “not related to student law camps”. He said rather that “he wanted to allow a decent amount of time for my successor Professor Jessica Palmer to learn the ropes and enable her to lead the strategic planning for next year and into the future”.

Complaints described an atmosphere of social pressure at the camps, where some students felt uncomfortable amid excessive drinking and games that involved nudity.

It is alleged that older students supervising the camp told the younger students it was tradition to participate in these activities.

A student that participated in the 2014 camp told the NZ Herald that Henaghan was present at a talent show which involved girls stripping down to their underwear.

Alexandra Mills told RNZ that she also attended the 2014 camp. She said there was drinking and party games that involved nudity, but that everyone appeared to enjoy themselves and she had not heard of any complaints regarding the camp.

Mills also noted that Henaghan was present at the talent show. “The dean was just a passive bystander in the audience watching it. So there was nothing really he could have done. If anything people went a bit further to try to be funny . . . or shock the dean.”

Henaghan has long been a popular member of staff among students and alumni, his entertaining personality along with his relentless campaigning for his school and students rights made him a drawcard for many students to study law at Otago University.

He infamously protected two students’ rights to “make love” after being requested to identify two students seen fornicating after a wine and cheese night, and made a cameo in the cult-classic student film Scarfies.

Apart from his job as Dean, he is an internationally respected expert on family law, especially law relating to children, and law regarding the human genome.

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