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April 28, 2008 | by  | in News |
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Students responsible for Craccum heist trespassed from AUSA

Two of the students responsible for the recent theft of hundreds of copies of Auckland University’s student magazine have been trespassed from Auckland University’s Student Association property.

The students were also billed for $1,800 in losses incurred from the theft and vandalisation of the magazines.

At least 800 copies of Craccum were stolen from the University on March 24 by a group of Chinese students who claim that an advertisement for a Falun Gong-sponsored cultural performance in the magazine is “misleading.”

Two carloads of the magazine were taken to an inner-city location on Monday morning. AUSA staff prevented a third carload of magazines from being removed by the group.

A representative of the New Zealand Chinese Students’ Association and a participant in the theft, Jim Sun, says the advertisement for the Chinese Spectacular does not disclose the political nature of the event. “The performance claims to be a show of traditional Chinese culture, which it’s not,” says Sun. “It is involved with so many of Falun Gong’s political points of view. It’s going to mislead all the Western audience, which will dishonour Chinese culture.”

The Falun Gong spiritual movement is regarded as a political group by the Chinese Communist Party and has been suppressed in China since 1999.

Sun says the group intended to remove the advertisements from the magazines before returning the issues to Craccum’s distribution boxes. However, Craccum advertising manager Aaron Haugh says only 200 of the 800 magazines were returned, with every page containing the advertisement crudely torn out.

The week before the heist, Craccum Haugh was approached by Jim Sun, who told him that Chinese students would stop reading Craccum if the advertisement was not pulled. Haugh responded that Craccum had a commercial agreement to print the advertisement, and that Sun could submit an article to Craccum if he wished to express his views.

Sun also approached AUSA President David Do to inform him that AUSA would be financially compensated if Craccum decided not to run the Falun Gong advertisement. He says the group would have relied on private donations and not financial support from political backers to remunerate AUSA for the loss in advertising revenue.

Craccum’s advertising policy dictates that any advert which is not racist, sexist or pornographic in nature will be accepted, regardless of its political stance.

Jim Sun and one other student involved in the theft met with Craccum Editor Dan Sloan and AUSA staff members last Wednesday to discuss the consequences of their actions. They were informed that they would be trespassed from AUSA property and required to pay for the losses incurred by their actions.

The pair were also told that the University would be informed of AUSA’s trespass notices if they did not reveal the names of the other students involved in the theft. The University would then have the right to trespass them from campus, effectively suspending their studies.

Sun claims he did not “design or organise” the theft. “Monday’s action was organised and executed by several individual students,” he says, adding that he was coerced into helping the other students. He describes their actions as “not acceptable on this university” and “inappropriate.”

While Sun insists that his actions do not reflect the opinions of the Chinese community, he says “if things can’t be dealt with fairly now” the Chinese community could respond unfavourably.

“If they don’t like AUSA’s response, what they are going to do is call the Chinese media … call other Chinese social clubs, even Chinese businesses, to come together and deal with the problem, make things go worse [and] make people go extreme.”

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