Otago University Proctor apologises for removal of 'menstruation' magazines

The University of Otago Proctor has apologised after hundreds of copies of a student magazine were removed from campus.

Copies of this week's Critic magazine were removed from stands around the University because of its controversial cover.

The cover depicts a cartoon drawing of a woman lying naked, menstruating on a bathroom floor. 

A University of Otago spokeswoman on Wednesday said Proctor Dave Scott and Critic editor Joel MacManus met on Wednesday afternoon.

"The University Proctor has unreservedly apologised for the removal of copies of this week's Critic."

Critic has said it accepted the apology, and suggested to the university that a donation of free sanitary products for students would be a positive outcome for moving forward.

Staff from the Proctor's office removed around 500 issues from stands, which the University said was a mistake. Critic said around 1500 to 2000 copies had disappeared.

The issue is still available online, where it has seen a surge in readership and since appeared on TradeMe.

"We think this is an excellent example of the Streisand effect - censoring this issue has made it much more newsworthy than it would have been initially," said Trade Me spokesperson Millie Silvester.

"We think a lot of TradeMe members will be keen to check out the auction and there are bound to be some collectors keen on getting their hands on a piece of student media history."

Critic is funded by students through the Otago University Students Association and operates independently from the university.

The menstruation issue was released on Monday, and by Tuesday morning every stand on campus was uncharacteristically empty.

At first, Critic suspected the copies had been removed as part of a prank or a protest, but later that day the university put out a press release saying the copies had been removed by Campus Watch staff.

The release of the issue coincides with the Women's+ Club's 'Period Week'. 

In a statement on Wednesday morning, the university said it "made no decision to remove the editions of Critic from university stands".

"Because Critic staff had removed copies of the edition from the Dunedin Public Library and the Dunedin Public Hospital on Monday, as they are public places, staff in the Proctor's office believed that it should follow that copies also be removed from campus."

Critic staff removed copies from the hospital on request, and had left a box at the library for them to make their own decision about whether to put the issues out.

"Regrettably, they removed approximately 500 copies and disposed of them. No directions were given to Campus Watch from the university on this matter. This was a mistake and never intended as censorship," the university said in a statement.

An open letter signed by a number of former Critic editors has accused the University of Otago of censorship and asked it to apologise for removing and destroying the issues.