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.

VSM protestors? Not representatives.

There were protests yesterday during  John Key’s visit to Dunedin.

OUSA Protest (Ch9)

It wasn’t such a warm welcome for the Prime Minister at Otago University. The Students’ Association held a protest against the Voluntary Student Memberships Bill, outside the Otago Robertson Library.

Noisy student protesters disrupt Key’s visit (ODT)

A noisy demonstration from student protesters disrupted a visit by Prime Minister John Key to the Otago Polytechnic campus yesterday morning, when he officially opened the University of Otago’s refurbished Robertson Library.

Who was protesting? According to mydeology

Your token rent-a-protest International Socialists and NORML (say what you like about these two, but at least they’re consistent with their presence and passionate about their outrage) were present, along with some Hillside workers, and what appeared to be various beatniks and goths.

These blog posts  give some idea of where some of the organisation may have come from.

VSM protest at Otago (The Standard)

About 600 Otago students turned out this morning (with Dunedin North MP Pete Hodgson) to meet John Key in protest to the VSM bill. Good to see a strong show of support for student unions!

Not popular in Dunedin (Clare Curran)

The Prime Minister got a taste of unpopularity in Dunedin today when he was roundly boo-ed by hundreds of students (and workers) protesting the VSM Bill which is an ideological attack on student organisations.

Dunedin students are protesting John Key’s visit right now  (David Clark)

Anyone has a right to speak, and anyone has a right to protest, and to attend and participate in protests.

But I question how representative our Dunedin MPs are when they promote (and are probably involved in organising) protests that suit their ideology and their party – even wearing support t-shirts.

MPs should be representing their whole  electorates, not their own political purposes and agendas.

And – I realise David Clark is new to politics, but…


Late Wednesday night, Act and National put aside the proper progress of legislation to fast-track the passing of anti-student legislation before the election.

If he thinks what Labour has being doing on the VSM bill is “the proper progress of legislation” and he gets elected as expected then I don’t like the chances of  Dunedin North getting good sensible representation.