Thursday, 26 February 2009

Otago University Toga Parade/Riot '09

Otago University's 2009 Toga Parade for new first year students seems to have made the news around the world, after the event turned into a war of eggs and rubbish.

The Toga Parade is an annual Otago student event, where the freshers (mainly from Dunedin's University Halls and Hostels) march down the main street, dressed in togas and laurel head wreaths.

It's usually a noisy affair, as hostels chant insults to rival halls, and the fresher students announce their arrival in Dunedin. Older students have traditionally lined the parade, pelting the odd student with eggs, flour, and water.

This year however the pelting got out of control, with massive amounts of eggs being biffed from the street and from the first floor flats above the main street shops (some by second/third/fourth year students, others just regular locals).

There were also buckets of water being thrown at the toga-wearing crowd, along with other dodgier substances, including apparently "vomit and faeces". Nice.

Some of the first years responded by grabbing full rubbish bags and throwing them at bystanders, as well as at cars trying to drive through the main street (one car got its rear window smashed).

The unruly parade was also partly caused by a confusion about the timing of the event. Apparently students from Unicol and another hostel arrived an hour early, and got frustrated waiting, so took off before streets were closed.

They got halfway along and were turned back by representatives from the Students' Association, and then rejoined the march with the whole crowd.

A few people were arrested for minor offences, but retailers were angry about some property damage (windows, signs) as well as having to spend many hours trying to scrape/sweep/clean dried egg and other gook off their shop windows.

Council cleaners and volunteers from the OUSA did do a lot of work on the night following the parade, but it still took shop owners most of Wednesday to get rid of the mess/smell.

Some are asking the OUSA to foot the cleanup bill, and want the parade banned in future years. Hopefully that won't happen, as it's normally a fun and colourful event on Dunedin streets that has previously caused few problems.

First year students depart from the Otago Dental School

When in Dunedin, dress like the Romans...!

A few bystanders hurl eggs at the toga-wearing freshers

Many students didn't know what was going on

The first years gather in the Octagon for their welcome

Good to see some students putting in the extra effort,
with authentic-looking leafy head wreaths...

A couple of students try to get a better view

Hi Mom! You'll be so proud of us... :-)

The loudest chant wins bragging rights for their Hall

Alcohol, Togas, and Brick Stairs aren't a good combination

"Ok, so that lot are students, and the green one is a statue..."

A brave car tries to drive through the middle of the parade

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  1. Will de Cleene Says:

    At first I thought it was just too many dicks in togas. But having a read in the Otago Daily Times about what was thrown at the students made me reconsider. If someone threw a frozen orange at me, I'd be pretty upset too.