The intolerant zeal with which British students’ unions have banned everything from pop songs to national newspapers has grabbed headlines over the past year. But ‘Blurred Lines’ and Page 3 are just the tip of the campus-censorship iceberg. Here’s the five most ridiculous student bans that may have passed you by.
5) Tequila club night closed down by Leeds University activists
The Tequila club night was the oldest and most popular student night in Leeds, running for almost 20 years. However, this long tenure didn’t stop it quickly succumbing to the steamroller of student censorship when, last year, it posted a promotional video on Facebook called ‘Fresher Violation’. The video included a number of ‘sexually aggressive’ comments from drunk patrons of the club night. Despite apologising and deleting the post within hours of it going up, the complaints came in hard and fast, with 100 students turning up to protest outside the club and an online petition to close the night gaining 3,000 Facebook ‘likes’. The media joined the storm, as the phrase ‘rape culture’ was used to mark the club night for slaughter. A police investigation sparked by the controversy ended in the night being closed down, and subsequent attempts to re-launch it elsewhere have been thwarted by the authorities’ threats of a license review.
4) University of Birmingham bans sombreros
Last November, the University of Birmingham’s Guild of Students put in place a series of restrictions on what students could wear to fancy-dress parties. Students donning sombreros and other ‘racist’ costumes found themselves turned away from student-run club nights. In one instance, a student was turned away for dressing up as ‘General Aladeen’ from the Sacha Baron Cohen film The Dictator. The irony of banning a costume inspired by a film that ruthlessly poked fun at the censorship of authoritarian regimes seemed to be lost on Birmingham’s union officers.