In a particularly short-sighted move, the students’ union at City University, home of one of the UK’s top journalism courses, passed a motion last week banning the Daily Mail, the Sun and the Daily Express. The motion, which claimed these papers promoted fascism and Islamophobia, was passed at an AGM attended by just 190 students – less than one per cent of the university’s student population.
Banning newspapers is sadly nothing new for UK students’ unions. In spiked’s 2016 Free Speech University Rankings, we found that 30 students’ unions had banned certain newspapers. Luckily, City’s journalism students are refusing to take the boycott lying down, and are making a stand for free speech. This morning, students flooded the journalism department with copies of all of the offending tabloids. Later that day, they filmed a ‘mannequin challenge’ (a video where participants imitate mannequins by standing completely still) of several students reading the banned newspapers, and posted it on Twitter.
James Walker, who is spearheading the campaign, told spiked that, ‘Students in the journalism department are looking at ways to overturn the decision’. Writing for spiked last week, Walker underlined that the ban was unfortunate, not least because the vast majority of City’s journalism students are ‘flag-wavers for the free press and open to reading any publication’. ‘If students’ union busybodies honestly want what’s best for us’, he wrote, ‘they should be protecting free speech, not seeking to protect us from it’.
Here’s hoping students across the country take inspiration from this, and start fighting back against censorship on their campuses.
Naomi Firsht is staff writer at spiked and co-author of The Parisians’ Guide to Cafés, Bars and Restaurants. Follow her on Twitter: @Naomi_theFirsht