Students protest university's decision to ban The Sun by handing out free copies on campus

'Students weren't consulted on the issue and despite there being a vocal opposition to it'

Rachael Pells
Education Correspondent
Tuesday 10 January 2017 14:23
Comments
Queen Mary University Students' Union said the decision to ban certain newspapers was made because they did not stand by the union's values of 'diversity and inclusivity'
Queen Mary University Students' Union said the decision to ban certain newspapers was made because they did not stand by the union's values of 'diversity and inclusivity'

A group of university students have covered their student union building with tabloid newspapers in protest over its controversial decision to ban them on campus.

Student council members from Queen Mary, University of London, voted in favour of banning sales of The Sun, The Express and the Daily Mail on campus, adding the university to a list of 30 institutions now in boycott of the publications.

Queen Mary Student Union (QMSU) said its decision was made on the basis that the newspapers did not stand by the union’s values of “diversity and inclusivity”, but students from the university’s Free Speech Society argue the move is a form of censorship and threatens university life.

Members of the society have resorted to handing out copies of The Sun to students at the Mile End campus as part of a stunt to demonstrate their anger at what they say is “dangerous censorship” by the university.

Free Speech Society member Emily Dinsmore, who led the stunt, told The Independent: “I was angry; 13 student council members voted in favour of the ban… Students weren't consulted on the issue and despite there being a vocal opposition to it, I felt the students' union ignored this and pushed forward with their own agenda.”

The undergraduate physics student said newspapers were also stuck up on the walls of the students’ union building and left in newspaper racks where they can no longer be stocked.

“We did this to protest the ban and also to defend press freedom,” she said.

“It was a fun stunt with a serious message that campus censorship should be rejected and we should defend press freedom - even if you don't agree with what a particular newspaper publishes.”

Members of Queen Mary's Free Speech Society posted pages of The Sun around the student union building in protest

The QMSU boycott follows similar decisions made by London’s City University and Plymouth student unions, and comes amid pressure from campaign groups for private companies including advertisers to end their support of so-called “hate newspapers” criticised for their negative coverage of matters such as immigration.

A Daily Mail front page story that attacked a High Court ruling on Brexit last year received more than 1,000 formal complaints to media regulator IPSO.

In a motion to ban the paper along with The Sun and The Daily Express in December, Queen Mary students stated: “The Union should continue to stand in solidarity with refugees, migrants, ethnic minorities and other marginalised groups.

A Daily Mail front page story that attacked a High Court ruling on Brexit last year received more than 1,000 formal complaints to media regulator IPSO.

In a motion to ban the paper along with The Sun and The Daily Express in December, Queen Mary students stated: “The Union should continue to stand in solidarity with refugees, migrants, ethnic minorities and other marginalised groups.

“The Union should continue to stand by its mission, vision and values such as “diversity and inclusivity”.

“The Union should not sell nor stock The Daily Mail, The Sun or The Daily Express in its venues and outlets due to the hateful treatment of these groups by newspapers.”

Passing the motion, QMSU said in a statement: It is important to note that this motion is not a ban of these newspapers from Queen Mary campuses and students are more than welcome to bring them onto campus.

"It is a commercial boycott that will ensure the Union does not profit from the sale of these newspapers."

A spokesperson for Queen Mary University said the university would “respect” the rights of the Student’s Union to make decisions on what is sold within its shops.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in