THE BLOG

City University's Banning of the Mail, Express and Sun Is A Fascist Policy

18/11/2016 16:01
Bloomberg via Getty Images

City University's Students' Union is no stranger to bizarre decisions. But last night it finally descended into full-on farce.

During the SU's annual general meeting, a tiny minority of the 19,500 students at City voted to support the banning of the Sun, Express and Daily Mail newspapers on campus - apparently because they are fascist.

I was not present at the AGM as I had previously committed to attending an event at the Frontline Club. And while I was in Paddington trying to further my career, less than 200 students were back on campus making a decision that could actively damage it.

Of course the irony of the whole thing is that banning publications you don't agree with is a fundamental policy of fascist regimes. All students at City are automatically members of the SU and therefore automatically members of an organisation that has now adopted a fascist policy.

Well, not me. I have opted out of being an SU member as I'm simply not prepared to be part of a group that holds such extreme views.

Since when did university students choose to ban people they disagree with instead of debate them? It's outrageous. Universities should be safe spaces for open debate - if the last few months haven't shown us all how in need we are of open debate I don't know what will.

But instead, a small group of militant activists, spurred on by an SU too weak to step in when needed, has trashed the reputation of a university that houses one of the greatest journalism schools in the world.

I received a message this morning from Yusuf Ahmad, the president of the SU, who chose to abstain on the motion. He said: "After thinking about it overnight, I think I would've changed my vote to no." How ridiculous that he wasn't prepared to stand up against the motion when it mattered.

Until last month, I was employed part-time by the Express, where I was a news reporter for the website. And while I may not agree with every opinion put forward in its articles, just as I don't with the Guardian and the Times, banning it just seems nonsensical. For crying out loud, these three newspapers are huge employers of City graduates.

Imagine this. The journalism department wants to hold an event for aspiring young tabloid reporters. If these apparently fascist publications are not allowed on campus, how will the militants at the SU cope when the people that write for them come to talk to students? The whole thing is a joke.

Add in the fact that the word fascism was spelt incorrectly in the title of the motion and you're left with a scene from a dark sitcom. Twitter has today been awash with high-profile journalists deriding this horrible decision. But they must understand that this terrible, terrible SU does not represent the thousands of liberal, intelligent minds that are today embarrassed by a decision that has been made on their behalf.

To all students in the country who feel let down by a culture of censorship and anti-free speech within our elected student officials and activists, the time has come for change. Let's not let them get away with it any longer.

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