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University of Otago and Students’ Association create historic partnership for Orientation 2012

Sun striking the Clocktower

Wednesday 15 February 2012 9:50am

Students at Orientation

In a major break from tradition, the University of Otago and its Students’ Association have created a new partnership for Orientation.

In its history, the Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) has always organised Orientation for students beginning their academic year at Otago’s Dunedin campus. Events usually include games and concerts in the midst of enrolment and events designed to teach students about their new environment.

However, the Voluntary Student Membership legislation enacted last year has led to new thinking about the relationship between the University and the OUSA and new ways of working together.

University Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne says the University has stepped up, adding its expertise and knowledge to enhance the Orientation experience.

The 2012 programme of events includes music acts that make it the highest quality line up in the best and newest venue in a generation of Orientations throughout New Zealand.

“We also include and welcome parents this year, with '‘parent orientation,’ especially for them,” she says.

University academic and general staff participation in events will also increase.

This will see Vice-Chancellor Harlene Hayne donning an apron and serving sausages from the barbecue; leading staff by example at the main festivities.

The events include a sports day at Logan Park, and performances by Shihad and Shapeshifter bands, with the later to be held for the first time at the new and much larger venue of the Forsyth Barr Stadium at University Plaza. The Dunedin public is also invited to events.

“It’s a great chance to be part of welcoming students to Dunedin and to the University of Otago while enjoying plenty of fun and activities,” says Professor Hayne.

“This is part of a long-standing programme to get students, staff and the townspeople together. We’re all part of the same community after all, so let’s give the students the opportunity to get to know us and vice versa.”

Professor Hayne says she greatly appreciates OUSA’s decision to offer staff event tickets at student prices.

“The OUSA has developed a great programme. OUSA Events Manager Kitty Brown’s blood sweat and tears have gone into this and she’s to be congratulated.”

Mayor of Dunedin Dave Cull endorses Professor Hayne’s comments, and says he is looking forward also to being at some of the Orientation events, including Unismart at the Stadium on the first day, Monday, at which he will welcome students, and talk about the unique relationship students have with the city.

“It’s great to represent the wider Dunedin community in welcoming new arrivals to our city. I hope they will continue the long tradition of mutual affection and respect between Dunedin and its out of town students," he says.

OUSA President Logan Edgar is also delighted that Orientation preparations have gone so well, and is looking forward to it.

He says that along with the Stadium security team, there will also be a larger number of student safety-focused staff and volunteers on hand including Red Frogs, a volunteer organisation that will offer water, food and ice blocks to party goers. Free busses will be available after events to take people home, as well as roving shuttles.

OUSA's own “Are You OK?” Team, who are trained in event first aid, will also be present at events.

The team specialises in supporting event goers and work in gender mixed pairs, checking bathrooms, providing basic first aid, and ensuring safety.

For the public, the Forsyth Barr car park will also be available for those wishing to bring along a sober driver. To access the car park all occupants must hold valid event tickets.

Traffic management will be in place along the North Eastern end of Anzac Avenue where it joins Ravensbourne Road, so residents are advised to take the by-pass road when travelling to and from the Ravensbourne area.

"Having fun and being safe is the priority, especially as we're welcoming staff and the community this year. We've beefed up security and the number of volunteers and groups that make our events safe and basically have the most comprehensive health and safety plan ever," Mr Edgar says.

Tickets for the public start at just $15 for the Hypnotist show and go up to $55 for the headline finale featuring Shapeshifter.

Director of Student Services David Richardson says Campus Watch will play an important role during this year’s Orientation – helping students new to the city to find their way, and learn about their environment.

Campus Watch will have a stall at Orientation’s Tent City at the Union between Monday 20 February and Friday 24 February, giving away fridge magnets, pamphlets on the Campus Watch role, and free popcorn. Staff will also be present at Dunedin Airport to welcome students, and to help them orientate themselves to where they need to go.

Also, there will be a significant presence of Campus Watch in the North Dunedin student area 24 hours-a-day from the beginning of Orientation week to ensure students are safe, and that parties are held within lawful expectations. They will also provide a 24-hour “safety car” for students on the streets who may require extra assistance to get home.

This year for the first time there is a Liquor Ban policy which prohibits the consumption of alcohol on campus property, as well as the usual fire ban.

A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

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