Unruly student flat initiations led to disciplinary action against 17 University of Otago students last year - including nine exclusions.

Appeals by the then second-year students against their exclusion from the first semester of this year, after an out-of-control initiation party, were rejected by the university.

They are able to reapply for the second semester.

In his annual report to the university council, proctor Dave Scott said the initiation issue was a concern as, on occasion, it had moved from harmless fun to significant anti-social and harmful behaviour.


In a bid to reduce the harm caused by extreme student initiations, an effort was made to educate first-year students that it was their choice to attend or not attend the events, but many still did.

The initiation in September last year attracted hundreds of students to the backyard of a flat on the corner of Cumberland and Dundas Sts. Nine first-year students had their heads shaved, stripped down to their underwear and sculled alcohol until they vomited.

Those nine were referred to the provost for their involvement in the initiation and were given final warnings.

They were required to complete 40 hours of community service after peer pressure from the older students - the nine subsequently excluded for this semester - was deemed a significant factor in their offending.

Despite the concerns about the flat initiations, the number of students referred to the proctor's office last year remained steady at 483.

Of the 41 students referred to the provost last year, 26 were referred for breaches of the university's code of student conduct which occurred during flat initiation events.

Eight other students who ran flat initiations involving excessive consumption of alcohol which jeopardised the health of other students were given suspended exclusions for the second semester this year.

The students are still able to attend university and might have their exclusions lifted if they complete 40 hours of community service, attend a meeting with vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne about their behaviour and meet ongoing expectations of good behaviour.

Scott said he made no apologies for addressing student initiations, which in many cases were morphing from safe to harmful and unlawful.