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Plymouth University's Students' Union Were Wrong To Ban The Sun, The Express, And The Mail - Here's Why

06/12/2016 16:21
Núria Talavera via Getty Images

There's definitely a stereotype that all university students are tree-hugging, socially-liberal hippies, but I'm afraid that that's just not true.

From my experience, we're a lot more varied than that. Yes, I do know a fair few students who are to the left of the political spectrum, but I also know a lot of students whose views align far more closely with those of the Conservatives than those of the Green Party.

Because of this diversity, it's only natural that some students are going to disagree with the views of The Sun, the Daily Express, and the Daily Mail. If a student reads the Guardian, for example, it's highly unlikely that they're going to have exactly the same social, political, and economic views as, say, a Daily Mail reader.

Regardless of whether or not you agree with the editorial stance of these tabloids, though, it's pretty clear to me that the decision of Plymouth University's Students' Union to ban them entirely will not solve the problems they present.

If you refuse to acknowledge the views and opinions of these tabloids, then you're distancing yourself from the real world. No matter how much you despise them, the fact remains that the Daily Mail and The Sun are the most widely-circulated newspapers in the country. By banning them from being sold in the campus shop, the Students' Union have shielded their students from the views of a large chunk of this country's population, and have shied away from encouraging the sort of open and well-informed debate that should be at the heart of any university.

It's hard to challenge something if you're never exposed to it.

Posting on Facebook, the union's vice-president for international and outreach said that he was 'happy those students who had to pass by the news stand every day and read offensive titles, being called names, being belittled and demonised, can now walk past the shop more safely and proudly'.

For a student to feel that they've been 'demonised' by a mainstream newspaper is, quite obviously, unacceptable. If you feel like you've been unfairly attacked by a publication, though, the right thing to do isn't to banish it from your sight. It's to confront it, to challenge it, and to try and force its editors to change the tone of their publication. Ignoring it entirely might be a quick and easy short-term solution, but it won't change anything in the long run.

So, if you disagree with the editorial views of these tabloids, then take a stand against them.

Expose their mistakes. Challenge them, question them, and raise awareness of their flaws, and let other people know exactly how you feel about them. It doesn't even matter how you do this; even just tweeting is better than nothing. All that matters is that you speak out. If enough people do, then maybe - just maybe - something will change.

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