7 Oct 2023

Otago student president condemns eel and duck hazing rituals

8:48 am on 7 October 2023
Otago University

Otago University. Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

A student leader says hazing rituals based on the mistreatment of live ducks and eels are "completely unacceptable".

The University of Otago is investigating claims that students mistreated ducks and a live eel as part of a flat initiation.

The incident, which was at a student flat near the Water of Leith, was allegedly filmed.

Initiations or hazing are sometimes inflicted on students wanting to secure spots in flats for the following academic year.

Otago University Students' Association president Quintin Jane told Checkpoint that the eel incident was one such event, and said these activities were "designed to embarrass the students" in front of onlookers.

"They got carried away with themselves and got involved with something that is completely unacceptable," Jane said.

He confirmed that an eel was involved in the incident, but could not say if the eel was alive.

The students' association was "really disappointed" to hear such incidents were happening in the community, Jane said.

Quintin Jane

Quintin Jane Photo: Supplied / University of Otago

"It's a shame some of the students have engaged in this behaviour.

"If you asked the remaining 21,000 students if they thought this was okay, they would wholeheartedly disagree."

Jane denied that such hazing rituals were just part of the student culture at the university.

"This is not the culture - almost every student at the university would disagree with this."

One Otago University student told the Otago Daily Times that while the experience was thoroughly humiliating, it was part of the "culture".

However, Jane said even the students involved would disagree it was part of the culture.

"These students have got carried away with themselves and done something that they wouldn't otherwise agree with. [They were] trying to one-up each other and show they're the bigger person."

The recent events were "pretty isolated incidents", he said.

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