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Student Choice Concerned Over Date-Rape Story

Student Choice Concerned Over Date-Rape Story

Student Choice today raised serious concerns over forced-funding of a recent issue of Otago student magazine, Critic. The magazine, edited by Holly Walker and owned by the Otago University Students Association (OUSA) featured an article which has outraged police and rape crisis workers. The piece, entitled "Diary of a drug rapist - no means no, but if they can't talk, they can't turn you down," describes in detail the techniques used to stalk, drug and rape women.

According to Student Choice spokesperson Glenn Peoples, while the article has rightly raised concens for obvious reasons pertaining to rape itself, a further cause for alarm is that the magazine is partially funded via complsory membership of OUSA. "What this means in practice," Peoples explained, "is that all students at Otago University, including, ironically, numerous female victims of date rape, financially contribute to this magazine because unless they do, they can't study at Otago."

Last year OUSA took a total of $1.3 million from students in compulsory levies, of which it gave $94,000 to Planet Media, the subsidiary that owns Critic. "To make matters worse," Peoples said, "the university council is complicit, because it allows the university to act as a collection agency for OUSA fees. In short, the university takes money from students and gives it to an organisation that funds the publication of material like this."

Peoples added, "Any serious publication that released this kind of material would immediately be in commercial trouble. Critic on the other hand doesn't have those concerns. Holly Walker could publish pretty much anything, with a guarantee of free money the following year." According to Student Choice, compulsory funding of student asociations and consequently of Critic encourages a lack of accountability, and reduces the consequences of publishing material that would, in any other context, be detrimental to the publisher.

Student Choice upholds voluntary membership of student associations on the grounds of freedom of association.

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