Students protest mag‘s destruction: ‘we‘re …fighting back‘

More than 100 students have gathered in front of Otago University‘s clock tower to

Some Otago University students protest the proctor‘s destruction of the magazine Critic. This week‘s edition depicted a pixelated image of a person menstruating. Photo: RNZ/Tim Brown

The university‘s proctor was forced to apologise to the publication, Critic, earlier this week after more than 500 copies of this week‘s issue were removed from stands and thrown away.

The cover depicted a pixel-style cartoon of a naked person with their legs spread, menstruating.

William Dreyer, one of the protest‘s organisers, said the censorship of the magazine was the catalyst for the protest but it had been a long time coming.

“That‘s just been the straw that‘s broken the camel‘s back.

“We‘ve seen censorship at Otago uni around budget cuts, staff cuts, mental health care restructuring, departmental restructuring, CCTV – it‘s just one in a long list. And we‘ve had enough and we‘re standing up, speaking out, and fighting back.”

He said he was pleased with the turnout of protesters on what was a chilly and bitter Dunedin afternoon.

“It‘s been fantastic. It‘s so exciting to see so many show they care.”

Otago University students protest the destruction of 500 copies of this week‘s campus magazine, Critic. Photo: RNZ/Tim Brown

The censorship of the Critic magazines was particularly grating as it canvassed an important issue and the proctor had carried out the destruction of the publication without consulting its editors, he said.

“They seized and destroyed property that wasn‘t theirs. And it‘s not okay to censor staff and students because they don‘t want their brand to be tarnished.”

He said he thought the message had been delivered loud and clear.

Representatives from the Otago University Students‘ Association (OUSA) joined the protest.

OUSA education officer James Heath told those gathered that OUSA‘s involvement in such actions was “long overdue”.

“This is a time to protest,” he said.

“This behaviour is not acceptable. Mistake or not they felt empowered to censor and stifle our freedom of speech.”

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