University student mag pulled after virtual rape story

VIRTUAL RAPE: The Canta article in question - The epidemic of virtual butt-hurt.
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VIRTUAL RAPE: The Canta article in question - The epidemic of virtual butt-hurt.

All copies of University of Canterbury's student magazine have been recalled after backlash over a "poor taste" article about virtual rape.

The story in Canta magazine, written by a student under the alias Queen B, was published in its Monday edition, and discussed the issue of simulated rape in forums such as video games.

It included the lines: "one might liken you to a drunk sorority girl whose whorey tendencies gets her in stupid situations – you were aware of the risks: you were asking for it", and "get the f*** back in the kitchen, b****."

INAPPROPRIATE: The Canterbury University student magazine article in question.
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INAPPROPRIATE: The Canterbury University student magazine article in question.

University of Canterbury Students' Association (UCSA) president Sarah Platt said all copies of the magazine had been recalled from around campus, and the online version removed.

Its Facebook post promoting the latest edition – saying "Canta's out, some people are mad" – had also been removed.

There had been four complaints made, and "we can tell that there's a bit of a feeling out there from more than four people, that there's a line".

"Self-restraint is an important aspect of publication," she said.

UCSA had been "grappling" with complaints last year that it was censoring content, but it was "probably not responsible enough to allow this sort of article to be published".

The editorial policy would be reassessed, following discussions with students on campus.

"It's about finding that line and that judgement call," Platt said.

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UCSA's Facebook post about the latest edition attracted comments from angry readers, including academic Ekant Veer, who last October returned his lecturer of the year award in protest against what he called an "underbelly of hate", racism and sexism on campus.

READ MORE: Lecturer riled by varsity racism

His move was prompted by the Engineering Society's (Ensoc) RoUndie 500 event that encouraged participants to choose themes "the more inappropriate the better", leading to cars and costumes that poked fun at women, Islam, the Malaysia Airlines crash and the Ebola crisis.

READ MORE: RoUndie 500 'offends everyone'

Diversity Week – introduced to encourage inclusiveness on campus since the Ensoc event – started on Monday.

"Canta, I know you're trying to get a rise out of people – but to publish this during Diversity Week is pretty poor taste," Veer said.

Nat Moore said: "It trivialised rape, it was needlessly vitriolic, and it made a mockery of diversity week."

Elisabeth Rolston said: "Congrats, you've made a mockery of everything you're supposedly working towards."

Fifth-year student Lauren McGee said: "I have never been more ashamed to be a part of this university than I am right now."

She lodged a complaint with the university and planned to collect "all the copies of Canta I see for the relocation to the trash they deserve".

Canta editor Greg Stubbings said he just printed what students wrote, and it was "clearly meant to be satirical".

"Student writing has always had the capacity to go that way," he said.

"If it's legal and not defamatory, it's difficult to morally argue that I shouldn't run it. It's not my place to censor students.

"It was either run [the story] or a white page."

Because the magazine was struggling to attract submitted material, it had introduced a $100 payment for any published features, and the writer of the article received that.

He would reconsider the use of pseudonyms in paid features in future.

It being published on the university's first Diversity Week was "not exactly a match made in heaven", Stubbings said.

"In many ways it's a terrible coincidence."

A university spokesman said it had sought an explanation from the UCSA, which was responsible for Canta.

Platt said the article was not the association's opinion, but that of an individual student. It did not mock diversity, and there were complaints last year that the magazine was censoring content.

It was up to students to debate censorship, she said.

 - The Press

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