Otago University is under fire for their support of Proctor Dave Scott, who trespassed on private premises in order to confiscate bongs from the students residing there – breaking well-established policy that neither he nor Otago University have the right to search private premises, as well as committing the act of burglary. Scott is further accused of threatening students with a police presence after he confiscated their property. This has been widely condemned as a display of arrogance on behalf of the former cop, and Otago’s student paper, Critic, is alleging that this is not the first time Scott has drawn the scorn of students for overstepping boundaries in pursuit of his own goals.
While Scott has since said that what he did was an ‘error of judgement’, he has not admitted wrongdoing beyond this statement, explicitly saying that he is ‘not a criminal’. This has drawn continued ire from those who believe further action is necessary – not only have hundreds of people signed a petition asking for his immediate firing, but an anonymous donor has pledged $25,000 to private prosecution against Scott, should this become a court matter.
The university’s support of Scott is troubling for a number of reasons, but his steadfast refusal to accept the idea of criminality is the most dangerous one, and has been notably mentioned across New Zealand media. An ex-police officer in charge of discipline cannot be allowed to arbitrarily consider himself above established practice – not only is it a corrupt thought process that leads to corrupt actions, as seen here, but it erodes trust in rational authority. Trust that is essential for relations between it and the wider community, students and the bureaucracy above them. This has been cited as a major reason for the petition calling for Scott’s removal, and the plea for the university to not allow him the ‘dignity of a resignation’ as opposed to being sacked.
Scott’s words reek of the mindset that many New Zealanders fall into, that criminals are not people who commit crimes, but the sort of people they think of when they hear the word criminal. When put into motion, it results in actions like these, where they believe that their own goals are not shackled by the law that those without power are required to obey.