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Why Universities Are Wrong to Ban The Sun

20/04/2014 15:44 BST | Updated 20/06/2014 10:59 BST

The other day I read a blog piece in the Guardian by a Leeds University student who was arguing against the institution's decision to remove the Sun from sale at the uni campus.

I couldn't agree with her more.

At my uni, down the road, there was a similar motion to do the same thing, apparently because the powers that be have decided that because of the paper's infamous page three it should not be made available to students. Thankfully, a strong vote against meant the idea was binned.

I am no big fan of the Sun or of page three, but I am even less a fan of censorship.

The whole point of a university is to open their students' eyes to the world and to encourage broad and independent thinking. Whilst as long as Student Unions are fully elected they are perfectly entitled to be political, it is not its job to make a huge political statement or betray a bias towards one viewpoint or the other on an issue such as this.

In short, present the world as it is. Don't cut huge swathes of it off and pretend stuff that you dislike doesn't exist.

Imagine if journalism and social media were like that. Outlets that presented the world as a glorious utopia where there was no bloodshed or tears, because they didn't acknowledge the things they didn't like.

Banning things because you don't agree with them sets a dangerous precedent. Exiling the Sun because of page three at a uni's campus of a few thousand people may appear to be a fairly innocuous move in the grand scheme of things, but there is a key principle at stake here.

Why don't we ban the Daily Mail because the figurative we don't like its views on immigration? Why don't we ban the Guardian because some of us believe it compromised national security over Snowden? Why don't we ban the Mirror because it printed fake photos of Iraqi prisoners a decade ago?

In short, where on earth does it end?

I was once on work experience at a reputable local paper when I was contacted by a whistleblower, who worked for a local company that was extremely well known in that city. To cut a long story short, the management of the company had allegedly been allowing adverts for a dominatrix to appear on its homepage, during daytime hours in the school holidays.

As you could perhaps imagine, this was causing some unrest amongst parents and teachers and also among the company's employees.

Licking my lips at the apparent emergence of my first major scoop I took the story to the newsdesk. Rather quickly my hopes were dashed as I was informed that there was no chance of us running this story, because the paper itself discreetly advertised escorts in its back pages. Therefore we would be accused of hypocrisy. The paper had had a similar problem in the past with a major investigation it had conducted.

And the reality is that lurid back pages such as these are probably in most local papers up and down the country. Morally it's questionable, and editors everywhere will be distinctly uncomfortable with it because it compromises the paper's position to an extent.

But financial constraints for the industry mean it is almost necessary to take the income that that brings. The baggage is guiltily shrugged off.

Does that we mean ban all our local rags too?

No, it means we accept that the press is a reflection of the imperfect world we live in. We don't have to agree with everything it does or says to admit it as part of a free society where we can think what we choose.

It's a slippery slope towards a narrow-minded society where those in power control what we think and read. I'm sure some people reading this may suggest to me that we are already halfway there.