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.