Dunedin’s population is about 115,000 and around 20,000 of those people are students at Otago University,
Most of them come from other places which creates a campus, unique in New Zealand, based round residential halls and flats centred on the University.
Otago’s student culture usually hits the headlines because of alcohol fuelled stupidity. But between those, relatively few, episodes of anti-social behaviour most of the students attend to their studies, sport and social activities without annoying other people or damaging property.
While doing so they forge friendships which last a lifetime.
I spent my first year at Otago at St Margarets. Our in-take was the first entrusted with front door keys which meant we weren’t under curfew as previous residents had been. We had to sign in and out but no-one questioned where we went and what time we returned. However, it was an all-women hall and there was a very strict rule about no overnight guests of the male persuasion.
The following year I moved into a flat at 109A Dundas Street and my third year was spent in another flat at 359 Leith Street which bordered the St David Street zig-zag. Both are now part of Arana College.
Yesterday’s ODT has a feature on former student and staff member Sarah Gallagher who started taking photos of flats for her master’s degree then set up sites with them on Facebook and Flickr and now plans to publish a book.