When a bunch of censorious student-council members at Queen Mary University voted to ban the sale of tabloids in union venues before the Christmas break, they probably weren’t expecting to find Queen Mary students distributing 250 copies of the Sun all over campus on the first day back. But that’s what I, alongside another dozen free-speech-supporting students, did yesterday.
We were standing up not just to the SU censors, but also to those like state-backed press regulator Impress who are pushing for the implementation of Section 40 and Leveson 2. As pointed out on spiked, these schemes would spell the end of press freedom in Britain, and are being argued for by the sort of snobs who would be very much at home in an SU meeting. (The government consultation on Section 40 and Leveson 2 ends today – make sure you say NO to both here before 5pm.)
In an attempt to undermine the crazy ban, and encourage students to respond to the consultation and sign up to the #FreeThePress campaign, we visited all the union venues on campus to hand out copies of the Sun, talk to students about press freedom and encourage them to take a stand against censorship.
Many Queen Mary students didn’t even realise a ban on the sale of three tabloids – the Sun, the Express and the Mail – had been implemented, which is hardly surprising given it was quietly voted in by a whopping 13 students in December. Many students were surprised and concerned by the union’s anti-tabloid stance. Seemingly, only those newspapers rubber-stamped by SU representatives can be sold in union venues.