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.

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.

Media watch – Wednesday

23 May 2018

MediaWatch

Media Watch is a focus on New Zealand media, blogs and social media. You can post any items of interested related to media.

A primary aim here is to hold media to account in the political arena. A credible and questioning media is an essential part of a healthy democracy.

A general guideline – post opinion on or excerpts from and links to blog posts or comments of interest, whether they are praise, criticism, pointing out issues or sharing useful information

Media watch – Tuesday

22 May 2018

MediaWatch

Media Watch is a focus on New Zealand media, blogs and social media. You can post any items of interested related to media.

A primary aim here is to hold media to account in the political arena. A credible and questioning media is an essential part of a healthy democracy.

A general guideline – post opinion on or excerpts from and links to blog posts or comments of interest, whether they are praise, criticism, pointing out issues or sharing useful information

Media watch – Monday

21 May 2018

MediaWatch

Media Watch is a focus on New Zealand media, blogs and social media. You can post any items of interested related to media.

A primary aim here is to hold media to account in the political arena. A credible and questioning media is an essential part of a healthy democracy.

A general guideline – post opinion on or excerpts from and links to blog posts or comments of interest, whether they are praise, criticism, pointing out issues or sharing useful information

Q&A – Robertson and Adams on the budget

Both the Minister of Finance Grant Robertson and the Opposition spokesperson in finance, Amy Adams, will be interviewed on Q&A this morning.

Robertson was competent on the Nation yesterday but could be pushed more by Corin Dann.

National seemed all over the place in their criticisms of a budget that was widely viewed as not much different to what a National budget might have been. It will be interesting to see Adams’ approach now.

Are you ditching neoliberalism? “…looking to transform the basis of our economy”.

The government isn’t going to get bigger. It’s going to get smarter.

Fiscal discipline emphasised by Robertson. Transforming in a deliberate and planned way, in contrast to the rapid reform in the 1980s.

What about dealing with the so called crises? Cites health rebuilding, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Child poverty? Robertson thinks they will make a big difference, citing $75 per week from the families package, due to kick in on 1 July.

Working poor? He only mentions help for families, not workers with no dependant children. No holding to account on this.

Media watch – Sunday

20 May 2018

MediaWatch

Media Watch is a focus on New Zealand media, blogs and social media. You can post any items of interested related to media.

A primary aim here is to hold media to account in the political arena. A credible and questioning media is an essential part of a healthy democracy.

A general guideline – post opinion on or excerpts from and links to blog posts or comments of interest, whether they are praise, criticism, pointing out issues or sharing useful information

Media watch – Saturday

19 May 2018

MediaWatch

Media Watch is a focus on New Zealand media, blogs and social media. You can post any items of interested related to media.

A primary aim here is to hold media to account in the political arena. A credible and questioning media is an essential part of a healthy democracy.

A general guideline – post opinion on or excerpts from and links to blog posts or comments of interest, whether they are praise, criticism, pointing out issues or sharing useful information

Media watch – Friday

18 May 2018

MediaWatch

Media Watch is a focus on New Zealand media, blogs and social media. You can post any items of interested related to media.

A primary aim here is to hold media to account in the political arena. A credible and questioning media is an essential part of a healthy democracy.

A general guideline – post opinion on or excerpts from and links to blog posts or comments of interest, whether they are praise, criticism, pointing out issues or sharing useful information

Media watch – Thursday

17 May 2018

MediaWatch

Media Watch is a focus on New Zealand media, blogs and social media. You can post any items of interested related to media.

A primary aim here is to hold media to account in the political arena. A credible and questioning media is an essential part of a healthy democracy.

A general guideline – post opinion on or excerpts from and links to blog posts or comments of interest, whether they are praise, criticism, pointing out issues or sharing useful information