Otago Uni: Destroying magazines 'was a mistake'

The University of Otago is distancing itself from the destruction of 500 copies of student magazine Critic Te Arohi - saying it was "a mistake" not an act of censorship, despite being carried out by Campus Watch.

Copies of the magazine - which had a cover with a cartoon of a naked, mestruating person -  were removed from stands around the university campus on Monday evening and disposed of in a dumpster.

Yesterday the university said the decision was made in the proctor's office, and today a new statement from the university, released this morning, emphasised the move was a mistake and described it as "regrettable".

Staff in the proctor's office made an "incorrect assumption" it should be moved from campus after staff learned Critic had already removed the magazine from the Dunedin Public Library and the hospital, as the campus was also a public place.

"No directions were given to Campus Watch from the university on this matter. This was a mistake and never intended as censorship," the spokeswoman said

The cover of this week's Critic  - the 'Menstruation Issue' - depicted an cartoon of a naked...
The cover of this week's Critic - the 'Menstruation Issue' - depicted an cartoon of a naked woman menstruating. Photo: supplied

Editor Joel MacManus said yesterday he was angry and disappointed at the move, which went against everything a university should stand for.

''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.''

Yesterday Mr Scott said he would talk to Critic staff today to explain what had happened and why, but this morning Mr MacManus said he had not heard from the proctor.

Critic staff noticed large numbers of the magazine missing from its stands at the university on Monday, between 6pm and 8pm, and put out an appeal on social media asking for information.

Initially they thought it was a group within the community who was offended by the cover, which Mr MacManus described as "challenging".

Mr MacManus said today that before the magazines vanished he had already removed copies of the magazine from the Dunedin Hospital, after receiving a request from the hospital to take boxes of the magazine away.

Critic also removed the magazine from the library.

Dave Scott
Dave Scott

The university spokesman said the proctor understood the magazine had been taken out of the library and hospital because its cover was "objectionable to many people, including children who potentially might be exposed to it".

The spokeswoman said the university had no official view on the content of the magazine. However, university staff and members of the public had expressed the opinion that the cover was degrading to women.

Mr MacManus said Critic staff were in the office when the magazines were removed, but they were not informed of the decision.

It was only after media reported the disappearance the university admitted Campus Watch was responsible.

A New Zealand Media Council spokeswoman said no complaints had been received. about the edition.

Comments

No doubt in my mind that this is extremely disrespectful to women. What is Otago University management thinking, trying to be 'neutral' about it? There is no 'neutral' - if you are not against it then you are for it. Otago University management is condoning this offensive behaviour and I wonder if the reason that they choose to set no standards for decent behaviour is because they fear risking enrolments. If so, then IMO they have it backwards. Such vulgarity is likely to deter more refined and sensitive young people and their families and leave Otago with the dregs.

It was disgusting. I am a nurse and have seen it all, but to put this on a cover of of a magazine is degrading for all women and actually inaccurate as hell. These little boys can pout and say all they like about censorship, but this is grossly offensive. It was an indecent publication and would have been in the hospital foyer, dental school and Hunter building for all to see.