Friday, March 17, 2006

Te Radar: Revolting students a case for the Army

The fact that Otago University is being forced to consider policing the off-campus conduct of its students, and has to meet the cost of this law enforcement, is an indictment of the moral cowardice of this Government's unwillingness to mobilise troops to quell the unrest.

Most self-respecting nations, faced with student unrest of any kind, are only too keen to call out their defence forces, both to suppress the uprising and to demonstrate to the public the skill of their troops at simultaneously marching and clubbing people.

A report commissioned by Otago University on student behaviour found an ongoing concern with inebriated students.

These latter-day Edu-goths are marauding through the streets of North Dunedin, smashing bottles, vomiting, and expressing their contempt for the bloated comfort of the bourgeois society from which most of them have descended by burning lounge suites.

While the report conceded that there was no "magic cure" for the students' antisocial antics, it did present several recommendations on how to deal with unruly students. These, however, remain a secret.

I suspect none of them mooted the use of water-cannon. Not only would these clear the streets of rowdy undergraduates, they would also wash away the regurgitated carbohydrates that mark the sites of their revels.

Naturally some students will claim that this is an excessive overreaction by a tyrannical state which breaches their basic human right to deconstruct social norms though alcoholic excess.

This will only prove that if there is one thing students excel at more than over-exuberance, it's whining about perceived wrongs. Society will have none of it.

After all, merely because one embarks upon a course of higher learning does not automatically mean that one is free from the normal constraints of civilised society.

If the behaviour of these supposed pillars of the populace was replicated by an ethnic under-class, or those studying at our other great state-funded education institution, the prison system, it would be roundly condemned by all and sundry.

Given that the majority of the disorderly students are of the masculine orientation, it is little surprise that another report appeared this week which concluded that an increasing number of New Zealand women are marrying "beneath themselves".

Some are blaming a man-drought for a shortage of decent, well-educated blokes, but another study states that increasing numbers of women are emerging with higher education qualifications than our menfolk.

Alternatively, both the studies and the news reports about them may simply indicate a clear feminist bias. It may be that women are not dumbing down, but that men are simply upgrading.

Regardless, it seems that more discipline is needed to control the behaviour and study habits of male students.

Only last week Massey University threatened a student with trespass if he continued to erect his hammock on university grounds. The university was right to be upset. After all, it has spent vast amounts on more discreet sleeping locations; they are called lecture theatres.

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