Censorship drama engulfs University of Otago

The University of Otago’s Proctor has apologised to the Critic from removing issues from campus.

Copies of the magazine – which had a cover with a cartoon of a naked, menstruating 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.

Editor Joel MacManus says he met with Proctor Dave Scott and OUSA CEO Debbie Downs.

“He made an unreserved apology for the removal of issues of Critic from campus. He said it was a mistake and never should have happened, which I appreciated.”

Critic say they have accepted the apology and suggested the university donate sanitary products for OUSA to distribute free to students.

MacManus says he was moved by outpouring of support almost immediately after the story became public.

“Really heartwarming to see so many people genuinely really care about student journalism. Almost as soon as it happened we had people outside our doors trying to start a protest.”

The cover featured a cartoon of a naked person menstruating. Photo / ODT

The cover featured a cartoon of a naked person menstruating. (Photo / ODT)

 

MacManus says they had students going around campus sticking up posters of the cover.

The University earlier distanced 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.

“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

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 MacManus described as “challenging”.

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.

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.

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

– with content from Otago Daily Times

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