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Top of the stops: What's been banned on campus in 2013?

From Robin Thicke to Page 3, students have been in a banning sort of mood this year
  • @CathFHardy

2013 really was a year in which things got banned at British universities. From sports clubs to national newspapers, and fancy dress to club anthems, so much faced the wrath of both student unions and students before getting the chop.

"The Sun"

29 university student unions have so far voted to stop selling the tabloid, after students protested that Page 3 was demeaning to women and that selling it on campus promoted gender discrimination. However, while many students applauded the choice, others argued that the ban enforced press censorship.

"Blurred Lines"

Robin Thicke’s “rape anthem” went from summer chart topper to club night leper faster than Miley Cyrus can stick out her tongue. Banned from being played at the University of Edinburgh before the academic year had even begun, other universities soon followed suit, spurred on by students who knew they didn’t want it.

Facebook "Spotted", "Confessions" and "Rate Your Shag" pages

Even social media isn’t beyond the banning power of universities, and this year Facebook pages were in the firing line. The controversial ‘Rate Your Shag’, ‘Confessions’ and ‘Spotted’ pages, used by students to anonymously humiliate their peers, were taken down after female students complained they no longer felt comfortable going to the library to study without facing scrutiny.

Racist outfits

Halloween saw the University of Birmingham's Guild of Students turn away revellers dressed as Mexicans, Native Americans and Sacha Baron Cohen characters, taking a stand against “racist” fancy dress costumes and “discriminatory behaviour”. This ban on sombreros follows controversy at other universities about cultural fancy dress. The University of Exeter’s Safer Sex Ball in 2012 was condemned for its tribal theme - and has now been banned - and the University of East Anglia’s FemSoc lodged a complaint about members of the rugby team who attended the annual Pimp My Barrow fancy dress pub crawl dressed as Zulu warriors.  

Sports teams

It’s safe to say that not many university Rugby teams have made a good name for themselves. Just as the Durham and UEA teams were reinstated following bans last year, Sussex and Nottingham’s teams found themselves axed. Sussex were banned for two years after causing £15,000 worth of damage on tour and Nottingham’s team were banned from playing in their varsity match after a student defecated in a sink during initiations.

Rugby wasn’t the only sport under the hammer. Aberystwyth’s cricket team was banned after wearing t-shirts adorned with inappropriate statements such as “Casual rape” and Cardiff’s football team got the boot after a student made a PowerPoint presentation at a student event, "jokily" promoting date rape and domestic violence. Clever.

However, it wasn’t just male sports clubs who were targeted. Female fitness enthusiasts were outraged when the pole dancing society also got banned at Swansea because of its links to the sex industry, despite arguments about the fitness benefits.

Student protests

In a rather more serious ban, the University of London obtained an injunction banning students from protesting on campus after a two day protest against the loss of facilities led to 41 arrests. The sit in turned violent after students occupied university headquarters, leading to fights between students and the police, with claims that one student was punched in the face by an officer. However, the six-month ban wasn’t effective long, with students taking to the streets to try and impose their own ban this time in a campaign called "Cops off Campus".

Attending memorial services

Continuing a University of London banning spree, ULU voted to prevent its officers from attending Remembrance Day services as representatives of the union. One or two union officials took issue, including Jay Stoll, general secretary of LSE’s students' union, who in an open letter branded the decision “absurd”. Former student Stella Creasy MP was also among those to condemn the ban.


And finally, students themselves were banned, with several universities banning individuals from their premises. These included Kirk Sneade, banned from all UCL union areas and unable to join a sports team after his controversial campaign to become Women’s Officer, which included a Facebook page with the slogan “Vote Kirk Sneade, because bitches deserve better”.

Meanwhile a student at Robinson College, Cambridge, was banned from his college bar until finals after he was discovered to have wet himself while drunk - in his own room. He probably isn’t the only one to lose control in the privacy of his own room, but he was the only one unlucky enough to get caught in the act.