The University of Otago's 'period drama' has come to a full stop after the proctor offered his apologies for disposing of 500 copies of Critic's "menstruation issue".

Copies of the student magazine - the cover of which had a cartoon of a naked, menstruating person - were removed from stands around the Dunedin university campus on Monday evening and disposed of in a dumpster by members of Campus Watch.

Dubbed Dunedin's "period drama" on Twitter, the story was picked up by national news media.

Critic editor Joel MacManus pictured at the Critic office yesterday. Photo / Otago Daily Times
Critic editor Joel MacManus pictured at the Critic office yesterday. Photo / Otago Daily Times

Proctor Dave Scott "unreservedly apologised" to editor Joel MacManus yesterday in what a university spokeswoman described as a positive meeting.


Getting rid of the magazines was a regrettable mistake by someone in the proctor's office, not an act of censorship, the spokeswoman said.

MacManus said Critic had accepted Scott's apology and suggested the university donate sanitary products to the Otago University Students' Association.

"I'm hoping we can all move forward."

MacManus removed the magazines from Dunedin Hospital after receiving an email from hospital management.

After hearing Critic had been taken out of the hospital, a proctor's office staff member understood the magazine should be taken out of all public areas - including the university campus.

MacManus said yesterday the magazine's website was busier than it had ever been.

He had received a lot of support from other students and from journalists around the country, including former editors of Critic, who wrote an open letter of protest to the university yesterday.

They urged the university to apologise and restate its commitment to freedom of expression.

MacManus did not foresee Critic making any changes to future editions because of what had happened.

"We want it to continue to challenge people," he said.

Office of Film and Literature Classification senior adviser Erica Brooks said at first glance the magazine cover did not appear to be objectionable.

"[While] the image does depict an explicit view of female genitalia, the image is not sexualised nor is it particularly degrading or dehumanising - the character herself seems quite happy," she said.

"Generally speaking, cartoon or animated imagery does increase the psychological distance between the viewer and the publication, which tends to lessen the likelihood of harm for the viewer and therefore its chance of being classified as objectionable."

The controversial edition of Critic.
The controversial edition of Critic.

The university released correspondence from Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne to MacManus earlier this week.

Hayne described Critic's "Menstruation Issue" in an email as "particularly good".

Media commentator and University of Auckland academic Gavin Ellis said the question was not whether it was offensive to some people, but whether it failed the "harm test".

He could see why some people thought it was disrespectful to women, but said the proctor's actions were "heavy-handed".

Dunedin City Council library services manager Bernie Hawke said the library made Critic available to the public this week "as it does every week".

"All copies had been picked up by members of the public by this afternoon, except for one which is retained for the library's heritage collection."