Otago University Proctor’s dumping of Critic magazine “regrettable”

A follow up to University of Otago confiscates Critic magazine.

Otago University now says the actions of the Proctor in seizing and dumping hundreds of Critic magazines was “regrettable” and they will meet with representatives of the Critic today. Given the furore over alleged theft and censorship some damage control is in order.

The Proctor is Dave Scott – Proctor’s office.

However this The Menstruation Issue will have turned out to be one of the best publicised issues of Critic ever

RNZ: Uni magazine pushes boundaries with menstruation cover

The Otago University proctor will today meet with the editor of student magazine, Critic, to explain why hundreds of copies of this week’s issue have been taken and destroyed.

I think that more than explaining is required.

Yesterday, the university admitted it had removed the magazines because it deemed the image on the cover objectionable. It depicts a pixel-style cartoon of a naked person with their legs spread, menstruating.

Critic editor Joel McManus said the magazines were distributed Sunday night and received a lot of positive feedback from students on Monday. Later that day he saw the magazines stands around campus were all empty – initially thinking they were picked up due to popularity.

“Then I realised every stand on campus was empty and we knew that someone had come through and cleared the whole lot.”

He was shocked that the university was responsible for the magazines’ destruction.

In a statement, a university spokesperson said it had been informed by the Dunedin Hospital and the Dunedin Public Library, both asking for the magazines to be removed from their foyers.

The University should have referred it to the students who run Critic to deal with their magazine distribution.

The University proctor then decided that the rest of the magazines needed to be removed from everywhere else.

A very poor decision, especially on campus.

“The proctor understood that the reason copies of this week’s issue had been removed from public places, was that the cover was objectionable to many people, including children who potentially might be exposed to it.”

About 500 magazines ended up in a skip bin on campus where they cannot be recovered.

The university said this was “regrettable”.

The proctor will be meeting with Critic today to explain what happened and why.

Draconian censorship and theft will take some explaining.

The chief censor’s office says while some will find the magazine cover offensive they don’t think it looks illegal.

In a statement, the chief censor’s office said on first viewing the cover seemed offensive rather than legally objectionable.

“It doesn’t hit our subject matter gateway criteria (sex, horror, crime, cruelty, or violence) and while the image does depict an explicit view of female genitalia, the image is not sexualised, nor is it particularly degrading or dehumanising.

“Generally speaking, cartoon or animated imagery does increase the psychological distance between the viewer and the publication.

“However, all films, videos and publications are classified using the same process, so the medium itself is not as important as the content and context.”

The editor of Critic gives his explanation:

The idea for the issue about menstruation came from a women’s-plus group on campus and meant to raise awareness of access to sanitary bins for trans students, Mr McManus said.

“Our team worked really hard putting the issue together and it’s an issue we’re incredibly proud of.

“It’s a cover that is challenging, but it definitely got people’s attention … so it was a real shame when, essentially, our readers haven’t had the chance to read it”

Critic online: The menstruation issue

I don’t particularly like the graphic cover but that’s irrelevant to this. Free speech and freedom of expression of a student magazine is a big deal, and the University proctor has really stuffed up here.


  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  May 23, 2018

    Well said, PG. Restitution is in order.

    • I think that at least the University needs to pay for a reprint to replace the dumped copies, they need to properly apologise, they need to assure Critic that they won’t interfere again, and that will only repair some of the damage.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  May 23, 2018

        Critic might want to put that image inside,

        I wonder if the people who see all nudity as exploitation of women will be making a fuss about this.

  2. sorethumb

     /  May 23, 2018

    Shock, shock, shock; attention, attention, attention. Perfect for jobs in media.

  3. Corky

     /  May 23, 2018

    The cover put me off my my morning nooch…the disrespect for freedom of speech is putting me off modern society even more.

  4. duperez

     /  May 23, 2018

    I heard Joel McManus on RNZ use the word ‘objectionable’ in talking about the issue

    RNZ online had a University spokesperson using that word and the chief censor’s office saying the cover seemed ‘offensive rather than legally objectionable.’

    Joel McManus has learned one of the most important lessons in journalism; to get attention you have to do something dramatic and controversial.

    He could now learn that to control the narrative you use your own word not someone else’s description. An old hand in commenting would have said they realised it was likely to be ‘controversial’ rather than the ‘offensive’ he uttered.

    I was pleased Guyon Espiner didn’t press him on deliberately setting out to be sensationalist
    with a subject likely to cause a variety of reactions. McManus sounded too young and buffeted to say “Nick off, you and all your colleagues do the same every single day.”

    RNZ was also very kind to direct people to a copy of the magazine on the Critic website!

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  May 23, 2018

      I can’t think why anyone would want to see that image.

      Why ‘a person’ when the ‘person’ can only be a woman ? And why is it necessary to show them, when every adult must know what this bodily function is ? It seems pointless sensationalising of a natural function…what next. .someone having a poo ?

  5. Gezza

     /  May 23, 2018

    1ewes at 6 just covered this event. At they end they said this issue of The Critic has attracted more readers than ever. Now, I wonder, did someone think up a very cunning PR plan to increase their readership … ?

    • Corky

       /  May 23, 2018

      What’s their circulation stats? Less than one 500 copies sold per issue, then yeah, someone has taken their cue from the Kardashians.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  May 23, 2018

        Anyone who’s been to university would know that these magazines are free and not sold.

        • Corky

           /  May 23, 2018

          Well, I never. So all those years ago I was being ripped off when I was charged a dollar for CrackUp. Duh! ( rings Dubai to talk with Tony)

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  May 23, 2018

            Not unless it was a university mag like Cracuum.

            • Corky

               /  May 23, 2018

              That’s it. Like I said: it was a long time ago. And now I think of it, it was Karl not Tony who ripped me off. To be fair, I was naive in those days.
              I was in a pioneer unit that eventually spawned the useless University Maori Studies Department. That mediocrity seems to permeate the whole
              of Victoria University nowadays.. No wonder they want to change their name.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  May 23, 2018

              Yeah, right.

              Vic’s magazine is Salient, as you’d know if you’d been there.

            • Corky

               /  May 23, 2018

              Salient !!! Now you are confusing me! Cackup is apparently Cracuum.
              Victoria should be Auckland, but without Salient. And Salient is Victoria without Auckland. Please leave me alone with my confusion. I’m sure Gezza may need some help with Alan.

            • Gezza

               /  May 23, 2018

              Alan is putty in my hands.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  May 23, 2018

              Lost Gezza at a Canta.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  May 23, 2018

            As I said; anyone who’s been to university would know that these are not sold,

            I won’t ask where Cracuum is, because you’ll look it up. Is CrackUp an attempt at wordplay or genuine ignorance ?

  1. Otago University Proctor’s dumping of Critic magazine “regrettable” — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition