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AUT on Otago Uni mag scandal

Illustration by Leaky Week.

It's been a bloody nightmare - here's what AUT thinks.

On Monday May 21 the University of Otago admitted to stealing around 500 copies of Critic (which is Otago University’s student magazine) due to the magazine’s cover depicting a gender non-binary person menstruating.

The entire magazine was themed ‘menstruation’ and included articles about reducing stigma around menstruation, discounted menstrual cups for students and the University of Otago falsely claiming all female toilet cubicles on campus had disposal sanitary bins.

Critic staff are outraged by what happened and posted a statement on Twitter saying, “This is bullshit. We consider this censorship, something that goes against everything a university should stand for.”

In response, the University posted a Twitter statement saying the magazines were removed due to the cover being “objectionable to many people, including children who potentially might be exposed to it.”

The University also said it took no official stance on the cover but said it had received feedback from staff and members of the public who believed it was “degrading to women”.

However, critics (pun intended) across the country have deemed this an unwarranted act of censorship.

According to Toni Darling, the Secretary and Science Area Lead of AUT STEM Women, if society didn't see menstruation as taboo or "gross", then the cover of the Critic's issue wouldn't have been cause for concern and removal.

"As a supporter of women, Critic's issue around menstruation would have been great to read. The taboo around menstruation, even among women, is unnecessary and detrimental."

Dr Tof Eklund, an AUT lecturer of English and New Media Studies, got in touch with Debate to voice their concerns, as they believe Otago University acted against the fundamental principle of freedom of speech.

“Whether the image was in good taste or not is irrelevant. In seizing and destroying this issue of Critic, Otago administration demonstrated contempt for student journalists and for the majority of their student body who menstruate.”

According to Critic’s editor Joel MacManus, the Menstruation Issue has been read over 18,000 times online – which is around four times higher than the magazine’s normal readership – proving the University’s actions truly backfired.

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