The student union at London’s City University, known for its journalism school, has voted for a campus ban certain newspapers, upon passing an ‘opposing fascism’ motion. The motion said the campus ban could be extended to other media organisations. The newspapers titles include, the Sun, Daily Mail and Express.
The Guardian reports that the university’s student union voted to ban the newspapers at its annual general meeting on Thursday night in a motion titled “opposing fascism and social divisiveness in the UK media”. The motion said the titles have published stories that demonise refugees and minorities, have posted Islamophobic stories and “all actively scapegoat the working classes they so proudly claim to represent”.
It added that “freedom of speech should not be used as an excuse to attack the weakest and poorest members of society” and that the titles publish stories that are “inherently sexist”.
The motion’s passing is being considered an embarrassment for the university, which runs one of the UK’s top journalism programmes.
The turn-out for the vote was not wholly representative of the student body. Less than 200 of the university’s 19,500 student population attended the meeting where the motion was passed for the campus ban of the newspapers “in their current form”. The motion added that the campus ban could be extended to other media organisations with the Sun, Daily Mail and Express titles “merely used as high-profile examples”.
The students’ union said there was “no place” for the papers on campus or university properties although it was unclear how the ban would be implemented. The union has resolved to promote among the student body the “active pressuring” of the newspapers to “cease to fuel fascism, racial tension and hatred in society”.
A number of journalism students have threatened to pull out of the union in protest against the decision, which they believe harms the university’s reputation. Many graduates go on to work at the Sun, Mail and Express titles in some capacity. One student, speaking to the Guardian anonymously said:
“Are they going to try and stop students carrying newspapers and will lecturers no longer be able to use or refer to them?”
Professor Suzanne Franks, head of the department of journalism at City University said:
“Students on our journalism courses value being able to access the views of publications and broadcasters across the industry and the department will continue to enable all these opportunities. We combine professional skills training with a concern for professional standards and the importance of fair, impartial and ethical reporting is at the heart of our courses.”
Yusuf Ahmad, president of the City University Student Union, said that the 182 attendees at the meeting had debated and passed 15 motions.
“A number of motions passed are committing resources of the union and will need the further consideration of the board of trustees. The union is currently unaware of any outlets on campus selling the mentioned media publications. As with all motions, the union will be considering how it implements this.”
George Brock, former head of City’s journalism department and current lecturer, said the move was in his personal view “foolish, illiberal and meaningless”.