Illegal censorship by Otago University

The ODT reports:

The Proctor and University of Otago Campus Watch staff have removed and destroyed hundreds of copies of the latest edition of  Te Arohi, the magazine’s staff have learned.

The cover of this week’s publication – the “Menstruation Issue” – depicted a cartoon of a naked person menstruating.

A University of Otago spokeswoman confirmed on Tuesday night the magazines were taken by Proctor Dave Scott after complaints were received from Dunedin Hospital and the Dunedin Public Library.

The Campus Watch team on duty on Monday night removed the rest of the magazines from stands around the university, she said.

“This was an assumption – rightly or wrongly – that this action needed to be taken, as the university was also a public place where non-students regularly pass through.”

It was a wrong assumption. The Critics are not the property of , so the actions of the Proctor and Campus Watch was effectively theft.

Campus Watch staff who spoke to Critic editor Joel McManus today about the missing magazines were initially unaware fellow staff had removed them.

Mr McManus said on Tuesday night he considered the removal to be censorship – something he believed 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.”

The University has been very heavy handed and should apologise to OUSA and Critic.

UPDATE: The Critic Editor has penned a piece on what happened at The Spinoff. Well worth a read. A few salient points:

  1. The Proctor never ever informed Critic of what he has done. They thought it was being stolen by a religious group or lone wolf. They never even considered it was the University itself.
  2. The Vice-Chancellor, Harlene Hayne, had ironically actually e-mailed the Editor to say “this week’s issue of the Critic is particularly good”.  So the action wasn’t approved by the VC.
  3. The digital version of the issue has now been read 9,000 times online thanks to The Streisand Effect

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