Former Otago law student defends controversial camp

  • 06/03/2018

Former University of Otago law student Bridget Morton has defended the controversial law camps that have recently been cancelled.

Naked drinking games and jelly wrestling competitions were reportedly common at the boozy camps, which were attended by at least one senior staff member according to NZME.

University of Otago said it had received a complaint about "inappropriate behaviour allegedly witnessed at a law camp" which it is investigating, and received two previous complaints about excessive drinking and nudity.

Ms Morton attended a camp in 2011, and said no one was forced to drink, strip, or perform inappropriate acts.

"We all knew before we were going there was going to be alcohol provided and it was going to be a bit of party; we all knew that we were not going to play Monopoly," she told RadioLIVE on Tuesday.

"As for saying that females were forced to strip, I can absolutely say right here and now that is not correct. I was never asked to strip. I don't know any females that were asked to strip."

She said there was one woman who took her clothes off at the camp she attended, but it was her choice.

"I don't think there was anybody that was offended. I think there was one male that did a naked keg stand. It was a bit of a laugh; nobody really cared," she said.

"I don't think anyone was offended... Some people like to party some people don't and that's fine."

Ms Morton said there was peer pressure at the law camps, but the situation shouldn't be compared to other scandals in the legal profession such as the one at law firm Russell McVeagh.

"With those cases you can see the pressure coming from a higher power, the partners of the firm putting pressure on young female interns. This is peer pressure we're talking about, this is peers trying to force their other peers to drink... It's not the same thing."

She said her experience at University of Otago law school was "amazing", and she made good friends at the camp including some who are her colleagues today.

On Monday University of Otago announced it was withdrawing its support for the student-organised law camp in the wake of negative media coverage, and shortly afterwards this year's camp was cancelled.

A petition has been calling for the camp to be reinstated, which has garnered hundreds of signatures.