Students at City University London have voted to ban the Daily Mail, The Sun, and the Express from campus in order to virtue signal their opposition to ‘fascism’. The university is home to one of the most respected journalism schools in the country.
The vote to ban the newspapers was carried at the students’ union annual general meeting held on Thursday night, attended by fewer than 200 of the university’s 19,500 students.
The motion proposing the ban singles out the three publications as examples of media which have “published stories that demonise refugees and minorities” as well as “sexist” and “Islamophobiac” (sic) content. It also accuses them of “actively scapegoat[ing] the working classes they so proudly claim to represent.”
“The media has a duty not to stir up racial tensions and hatred just to sell papers,” the motion asserted, adding that the owners and editors of such publications should “be held accountable for inciting hatred.”
To that end, the union has resolved that there is “no place” for the publications “in their current form” on the university’s campuses or properties.
The motion makes it clear that the ban doesn’t only apply to those three publications, but to any deemed to be fascist. “These were merely used as high profile examples,” the motion notes.
However, some students have questioned how the ban can be enforced, particularly in the school of journalism. One student, speaking to The Guardian, asked: “Are they going to try and stop students carrying newspapers and will lecturers no longer be able to use or refer to them?”
Professor Suzanne Franks, head of the department of journalism at City University, said that students would be allowed to continue accessing the three papers.
“Students on our journalism courses value being able to access the views of publications and broadcasters across the industry and the department will continue to enable all these opportunities,” she said.
“We combine professional skills training with a concern for professional standards and the importance of fair, impartial and ethical reporting is at the heart of our courses.”
Many of the students at the department of journalism will go on to have careers at the three named papers, or other publications with similar editorial lines. They have expressed anger at the passing of the motion, asking whether they can disassociate themselves from the union.
Lecturer George Brock, a former head of City’s journalism department, said in his view the move was “foolish, illiberal and meaningless.”
He said: “The students in the class I was teaching today were furious and understandably so at gesture politics from a fraction of the student body. They understand that the answer to journalism that you may not like is to do the journalism better.”
However, Yusuf Ahmad, president of the City University Student Union, admitted that the union is “currently unaware of any outlets on campus selling the mentioned media publications.”
As a result, he said the union would need to consider “how it implements this.”
He added that the 182 attendees at the meeting had debated and passed 15 motions in all at the meeting, including some on the agenda which are highly controversial.
A motion to support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel resolved that the union will “raise awareness of Palestinian issues” as well as promoting the BDS movement on campus. In September, a prominent holocaust expert slammed the movement as anti-Semitic, saying those behind the movement don’t want “a better Israel, they want no Israel at all.”
Another, titled “Why Is My Curriculum White?” asserted that university education is currently “largely shaped by colonialism,” and committed the union to lobbying for more black lecturers, as well as taking “an active role in decolonising our curriculum.”