University of Canterbury must improve crisis student communication and support

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Student communication

University of Canterbury James Hight libraryOn 22 July 2016 a woman was sexually assaulted while walking through the University of Canterbury owned Ilam Fields.

In response to a request from the Police, who informed UC Security of a “physical assault”, an email was sent to all students that day.

On 24 July 2016 a reporter from The Press contacted the University in response to the Police releasing a statement to the media. The Police told The Press that the assault was actually a sexual assault, and this fact was published in an article that day. In response to an Official Information Act request, most of which was initially declined, the University said that “the Police appeared not to have told the University of the sexual nature of the incident before telling the media”.

However, the University did not inform students of the sexual nature of the incident after it became public knowledge. The assault was alluded to in a 28 July UC blog post, which included 10 ’safety and security tips’ and a list of ’support for students’ links, including a link to the UC Health Centre. This content was also included in the next edition of the ‘Insider’s Guide Newsletter’, a weekly digest sent to all students, on 31 July.


Last night a student died suddenly at the Rochester and Rutherford Hall of Residence.

The death has been reported as sudden and not suspicious, often used by the media as code for a suspected suicide.

UC acting vice-chancellor, Dr Hamish Cochrane was quoted by the media as saying “all the university’s students and staff were advised [Sunday], and made aware of the support available”.

Communication to students consisted solely of a UC blog post listing four UC support services that are available to students, including the UC Health Centre. Links to blog posts appear for a few days in the sidebar of Learn, UC’s online learning management system which is regularly accessed by students and staff. However, no email was sent to students, and there was no acknowledgment that a student had died.

Late on Sunday night, a link to the blog post was included in the ‘Insider’s Guide Newsletter’ emailed to students.

UC Health Centre Counselling under pressure

Students are struggling to access support.

The UC Health Centre provides free counselling to UC students, however their website states that counselling appointments “are in high demand [and] you may have to wait a few weeks to be seen”. During office hours there is an on-call counsellor to deal with students facing an “emergency situation”.

During this year’s UCSA elections one group of candidates asked students on Facebook which one out of four campaign policies they thought was most important. “Increased mental health awareness and support” was voted second. In response to a question asking how the UCSA should help support those with mental health issues, students voted overwhelmingly for “increased health centre funding for more counsellors”.

Students wanting to skip the UC Health Centre counselling waiting list could choose to pay for sessions with a private counsellor or psychologist. Students may be eligible for the disability allowance, however there are restrictions, including a maximum payment of $61.69 a week (appointments with private psychologists can cost $150 or more).

WATCH OUT ROAD USERS OF NEW ZEALAND

Because I can get my full licence.

Approved

I posted a while ago about changes to the graduated driver licensing system in New Zealand. The changes weren’t advertised well. I ended up having to apply for an exemption for my full licence. The exemption form (PDF) contains stupid questions and you have to pay $27 for them to read your application.

Here’s what to write to get an exemption

Please provide details of the requirements you wish to be exempted from and why you wish to be exempt from them
The new age of 17 and six months to get a full licence (w/ approved course)
I understand that the exemption will apply from the [date I will have had my restricted licence for a year]

What have you done to mitigate the risks to road safety?
As of [x] I will have help my restricted licence for 12 months.
I have completed an approved course (cert attached)
I have not committed any traffic offending (including speeding or breaching licence conditions)

Question 5: What events have been occurred to make the legislated requirements unnecessary or inappropriate in your case?
Change of the age to get a full licence was not well publicized. If I had booked my licence test before the age changed, the new age wouldn’t have applied to me.

Image credit: Hobvias Sudoneighm

Family First’s Fair and Balanced Sex/Abortion Youth Poll

Votes

Family First ordered a poll (something they subsequently left out of their press release) on young people’s views on sex and abortion, and apparently most of them agree with Family First.

The poll

The poll was conducted by Curia, David Farrar of Kiwiblog’s market research company. The sample size was 600 15 to 21-year-olds from 6,000 nationwide phone numbers.

“Based on this sample of 600 respondents, the maximum sampling error (for a result of 50%) is +/- 4.1%, at the 95% confidence level.”

Of course, it isn’t actually independent at all because Family First got to choose the wording of the question and options.

Sex education

Do you think sex education in schools should teach values, abstinence and consequences such as pregnancy, or just teach safe sex?

  • Values, abstinence and consequences – 34%
  • Just safe sex – 19%
  • Both – 42%
  • Unsure/refuse – 5%

Safe sex gets ‘just’ put in front of it, but values, abstinence and consequences doesn’t. Did the 34% know they were choosing just values, abstinence and consequences?

Chief executive of Family Planning, Jackie Edmond points out that no organization actually advocates safe sex by itself.

Family First’s spin on this result:

“This is a direct rebuke from young people to the ‘use a condom’ and ‘everyone’s doing it’ messages being pushed by groups like Family Planning, AIDS Foundation and Rainbow Youth,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

Except, at least 61% support education involving condoms. And ‘everyone’s doing it’ isn’t a message safe sex groups send.

Parental consent for abortion

Provided it won’t put the girl in physical danger, should parents be told if their school-age daughter is pregnant and considering getting an abortion?

  • Yes – 59%
  • No – 34%
  • Unsure/refuse – 7%

Without a crystal ball there’s really no way to be sure that it “won’t put the girl in physical danger”. Why not trust the girl’s own judgment? The question suggests that physical danger is the only significant danger. There’s other considerations to be made. Emotional and financial harm, or being chucked out of home are all significant, but none come under physical danger.

“Parental notification laws in Texas, Michigan, Minnesota, and other US states have seen a drop in both the pregnancy rate and the teen abortion rate – a win-win situation for all concerned.”

I’m guessing that quite a few of these abortions have just moved to states with more liberal abortion laws.

Abortion in general

Do you believe an unborn child or foetus has a right to be born?

  • Yes – 56%
  • No – 28%
  • Unsure/refuse – 16%

Slightly more young women than young men agreed – 58% to 55%.

The conclusion based on gender is misleading. Slightly more young women than young men disagreed too, 28% to 27%.

 

Sex education, parental notification, abortion poll results (doc)

Here is Family First’s article on the results (if anything, you should read it to see the words cock, wank, orgasm and clitoris censored with asterisks).

Image credit: Democracy International

The War On Youth: Pak’nSave Responds

Pak'nSave shoppersTheir reply to “Random” Pak’nSave Bag Searches. No comment on women with handbags or what happens if I did have something in my bag that I had bought from another supermarket.

Dear Matt,

I can confirm that our bag policy is applicable regardless of a customer’s age and is simply designed to prevent an ongoing shoplifting issue which we are trying to manage. We have a prominent sign in-store which clearly states that ‘We reserve the right to check all bags and may require you to leave large bags with a staff member while shopping.’

While I do appreciate having your bag checked is an inconvenience, unfortunately due to the level of shoplifting we experience in-store, it is an unavoidable part of how we are forced to do business, we would certainly prefer to not check customer’s bags but sometimes even with cameras and other security measures we are left with no option. I apologise if you felt you were unfairly treated and I hope you will continue to shop at my store.

My staff remain committed to giving our customers the best possible shopping experience, and by endeavouring to keep shoplifting to a minimum we hope we can deliver the lowest everyday prices.

Kind regards,

Steven McDonald
Owner
PAK’nSAVE Riccarton

Image credit: Naomi

The War On Youth: “Random” Pak’nSave Bag Searches

Trolley outside shop

Update: Pak’nSave responds.

An open letter.

Dear People of Pak’nSave Riccarton,

On 15 December I shopped at Riccarton Pak’nSave with a group of other young people.

After purchasing items at a self-checkout directly in front of one of your staff (really, she was right beside me), she requested to search my bag. I had not touched the bag during my visit so this request was not based on any actual evidence that I had attempted to steal something, like from a store detective or a camera.

It was extremely obvious that this was not a random search, as she called it. It was because of my age. Three other people from our group were selected for a “random” search. I wonder how many women with handbags were searched that day? I know my friend that came through the self-checkout after us wasn’t.

I declined the request.

I waited for the rest of our group and left the store. I was followed by a store manager who put his arm touching up against me, and tried to stop me from leaving. I declined again, which I have the right to do, no matter your signage, and walked away.

It’s disgusting to treat your paying customers like this.

Do you consider that bags contain personal possessions? That most people wouldn’t decline your request to search, because it makes them look and feel like a criminal? That searching personal possessions could reveal, say, a private medical condition?

I wonder what the purpose of these “random” searches are. Say I did consent to the search, I had items in my bag that I didn’t buy or steal from Pak’nSave, but that you sell. I didn’t have the receipt. What would happen then? Would you accuse me of stealing those items? Would you call the police on me? If not, why are you searching young people? Scare tactics? That isn’t the definition of a reasonable search.

If it is your policy to target young people or people with backpacks (read: young people), it needs to change. It is discriminatory and wrong.

If you weren’t the only supermarket at Westfield Riccarton, I wouldn’t shop with you again.

Kind regards

Matt Taylor

Image credit: bfick

Update: Here’s Aliza Eveleigh on bag searches (click for larger version): The Star Aliza Eveleigh bag search

Unintended Consequences: Shifting The Risk Of Young Drivers

Teen driver laws are mixed on curbing fatal crashes (via):

“For more than a decade, California and other states have kept their newest teen drivers on a tight leash, restricting the hours when they can get behind the wheel and whom they can bring along as passengers. Public officials were confident that their get-tough policies were saving lives.

Now, though, a nationwide analysis of crash data suggests that the restrictions may have backfired: While the number of fatal crashes among 16- and 17-year-old drivers has fallen, deadly accidents among 18-to-19-year-olds have risen by an almost equal amount. In effect, experts say, the programs that dole out driving privileges in stages, however well-intentioned, have merely shifted the ranks of inexperienced drivers from younger to older teens.”

BMW 5 Series InteriorBasically, since the program started in 1996, there were 1,348 fewer fatal crashes involving 16-year-old drivers, which looks great on the surface. But, there were 1,086 more fatal crashes involving 18-year-old drivers, which could be because young drivers are waiting until they are 18 to bypass restrictions.

This could support that inexperience is a greater factor in young driver accidents as opposed to immaturity–if there were more unrestricted novices on the road at 18.

It’s seems unlikely that this would be the case in New Zealand, because the only exception to our graduated licence system based on age is reducing the time you have to stay on your restricted licence, if you’re over 25, before being able to apply for your full licence.

At 16 and 18 there are differences of who is involved with the driver, which is more relevant to New Zealand. Is a 16-year-old’s parents while they are living with them more likely to be involved with their driving, compared to an 18-year-old who is likely not at home and away from parents?

Bonus points for spotting the similarities with consuming alcohol responsibly.

 

Maybe the real question is why is driving our own cars such a non-negotiable?

“If reducing car injuries and fatalities is the purpose, this can also be achieved – and for all ages – by providing and promoting ubiquitous, affordable and on-time public transport systems. A nice plus would be the benefits to the environment, a decreased [dependence] on oil and a firm middle finger to Big Oil’s influence on politics and society as a whole.”

Image credit: Rob Ellis