University of Otago confiscates Critic magazine

There is a bit of a ruckus at Otago, with the University ordering the seizure of 2000 copies of the Critic magazine that features menstruation.

Critic: The menstruation issue

The cover graphic was a bit gross (in my opinion) and the content doesn’t interest me (I’m not the target market obviously) but it seems generally like a genuine attempt to raise issues and discuss something that is pertinent to many young people’s lives.

But the University has been accused of censorship and also theft, with some justification.

Newshub: 2000 copies of ‘menstruation’ issue of Otago University’s Critic magazine stolen

The Proctor of University of Otago has taken responsibility for removing around 2000 copies of a controversial issue of a student magazine in Dunedin.

The magazines had been cleared from almost all stands on the University of Otago campus on Monday night, Critic magazine editor Joel MacManus told Newshub.

He believed the magazines had been stolen – potentially by a religious group because of the weekly publication’s controversial cover, which had quite a provocative image on it for its “menstruation” issue.

A university spokeswoman said Proctor Dave Scott received requests of this week’s magazine to be removed from the Hospital and Dunedin Public Library foyers.

As such, the campus watch team removed the rest of the magazines from stands around the university on Monday night.

“The assumption was made that copies of the magazine also needed to be removed from other public areas, and hence the Proctor made this decision,” the spokeswoman said.

“This was an assumption, rightly or wrongly, that this action needed to be taken as the university is also a public place, where non-students regularly pass through.

“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.”

Mr Scott said he intended to talk to Critic staff members on Wednesday about why this action was taken.

Seems heavy handed and consulting after seizure seems a retarded way of dealing with it.

Mr MacManus has been left disappointed and angry at the magazines’ removal.

“We consider this to be censorship, something that goes against everything a university should stand for,” he said.

“We stand by the content of the magazine, and believe it touched on a number of very important issues about period poverty and trans issues, as well as breaking taboos about a bodily function that half the population experience.”

No one was contacted about the decision to remove the magazines, he says.

It looks like a form of censorship. Critic is owned by the students Association, not by the University.

The university spokeswoman said the university had no official view on the content of this week’s magazine.

However it was aware that some staff members and members of the public had expressed the opinion that the cover was degrading to women.

Critic illustrator and cover artist Saskia Rushton-Green said that was not her intention.

“I certainly never intended this piece to be degrading to women or anyone who bleeds from their vagina – in fact, I hope some people find it empowering,” she told Newshub.

Lawyer Graeme Edgeler:

And law professor Andrew Geddis provides an online link to the cover:

As well as apparently illegal – theft –  it does seem scandalous interference in an independent publication by the University.

And what the University has done it give far more attention to this issue of Critic than it would have otherwise received.

Ironic on the same day I posted Risk of provoking ‘Streisand effect’ could backfire.

Leave a comment


  1. Missy

     /  22nd May 2018

    The cover is unnecessary, and inappropriate, in my opinion, but I am not sure how it is deemed degrading to women, unless the fact that women menstruate is degrading.

    This does seem to be an overreaction, there are other ways to deal with the issues it raises rather than go around stealing the magazine off the shelf.

    Imagine if they went around stealing the Listener, or the Woman’s Weekly, they would be prosecuted.

    • Gezza

       /  23rd May 2018

      If they went around stealing the Woman’s Weekly trav might be first on the suspect list? 😉

      • Missy

         /  23rd May 2018

        Only if….

        1. The PM was on the cover, and
        2. A big bonfire was spotted in the vicinity


  2. NOEL

     /  23rd May 2018

    Uni Student mag by association percieved connection to uni. University removes copies from public spaces no indication they raided student flats to obtain copies on private property.. should have thought before publishing. So much for student intellect.

  3. Gezza

     /  23rd May 2018

    Seems an over the top reaction by the University to me. Wonder what the gender breakdown of the Critic’s student staff is though.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  23rd May 2018

      Why? The editor was male and the artist was female.

      • Gezza

         /  23rd May 2018

        Well, firstly, Sir Alan, I don’t usually question why I wonder things. It just happens.

        One minute I’m thinking I hadn’t pulled apart & vacuumed the old Capri gas wall heater last night because it was working before I did that.

        The next minute I’m reading PG’s bloke and unexpectedly a question suddenly appears in my mind. In this case, having also read Missy’s comment, I wondered whether any female staff of the paper also felt it was an inappropriate cover pic.

        it’s one of those strange things that you can’t show female genitalia on the cover of a paper or mag but you can maybe do it inside. But possibly outside of the gay community you can’t seem to show the male genitalia anywhere. It’s one of these censorship areas that’s perenially grey.

        • Gezza

           /  23rd May 2018

          *One minute I’m thinking I WISH I hadn’t pulled apart … 🙄

          • NOEL

             /  23rd May 2018

            Was ” if its working don’t interfere with it ” one of Murphy’s.

            • Gezza

               /  23rd May 2018

              Yeah, I know NOEL. I did the same thing last year, with no probs. It’s a nearly 30 years old heater but it’s got four bricks and as it ages it’s only heating three of them full-on. It’s fast as heating the place still, though.

              A gasfitter relly had a look at it in July 2015 as I thought I could smell unburnt gas. It’s 28 years old, & to replace will cost a fortune as they don’t make these anymore – too dangerous, open flame. So a section of the wall will have to be removed and a modern unit with a flue up inside the old one will be solution.

              But he said the smell was more like burning dust & the problem was temporarily solved by taking the panel off and the bricks out and just giving it a good vacuum clean – improved the function but it will still deteriorate. The low heat’s caused by crack in a steel backplate mucking the dynamics up, which happens over time, & welding’s not an option. I was hoping to get another two winters out it – still do.

  4. Zedd

     /  23rd May 2018

    “Its a conspiracy I tell ya !”
    Is the proctor a Jesuit ??

    • Corky

       /  23rd May 2018

      ”Is the proctor a Jesuit ??”

      Yes. He said: ”give me the magazine and I will show you the rubbish skip.”

  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  23rd May 2018

    I’m puzzled why/how the complaints from the hospital and the public library went to the Proctor rather than the Critic publishers and distributors?

  1. Otago University Proctor’s dumping of Critic magazine “regrettable” | Your NZ

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