York University Students Campaign To Remove The Sun After Reeva Steenkamp Killing 'Trivialised'

Students at York University are campaigning to stop their union shop from selling The Sun newspaper, saying the tabloid 'trivialised' Reeva Steenkamp's death.

The campaigners say issues with The Sun "have been particularly shocking," and cite Hillsborough and phone hacking as examples, along with the recent front-page splash of Steenkamp.

The Sun's front page has attracted widespread criticism, particularly from students at York University

Helena Horton and Scott Lishak, both York University undergraduates, are behind the drive to stop the student-union [YUSU] run shop, YourShop, from profiting from the tabloid.

They wrote on the group's Facebook page: "We believe [withdrawing The Sun] will show a symbolic 'no to discrimination' from the University of York's students and will mark a victory for the liberation of all those groups who have, down the years, been victimised by The Sun for no reason other than to increase their bottom line.

"We are incredibly excited with the response we've had from the campaign so far, and by the potential progress we can make in coming weeks," they added.

"We feel as though the YUSU-run shop on campus, YourShop, should not be stocking a newpaper that is daily sexist, xenophobic and downright discriminatory about a number of groups that are represented within the university's student body, and therefore within YUSUs membership itself."

Horton will be speaking at a university debate on Friday, backing the motion: "YUSU should stop profiting from prejudiced publications."

Horton, who is also deputy news editor at The Yorker, told The Huffington Post the campaign had had a "mixed response" from the student union.

"Our Welfare Officer, Bob Hughes, is behind us completely and is actually speaking at the debate as one of our principal speakers on Friday. Others have declined to comment or help the campaign, though our president Kallum Taylor has offered his support too.

"It's quite a controversial issue so I can see why other prominent members of the Union are hesitant to give an opinion either way."

The student says the issues would be brought to a referendum to allow the student body to vote.

"I would just like to reiterate that this is not about 'banning the Sun', it is about taking it out of the Union shop so we are not forced to support it by proxy, and so that the Union doesn't profit from prejudice," she adds. "If a non-Union shop wanted to sell it on campus, we probably wouldn't campaign against it."

YUSU's Bob Hughes told HuffPost UK: "I'm really pleased to see our students engaging with issues such as this through their decision-making bodies. This issue will generate a lot of debate and strong feeling on either side, and it is only right that all students have the right to have their say and vote on the issue."

Thomas Smith, a York student, voiced his opposition to the boycott plans in a column titled "A page three panegyric".

Writing for The Yorker, the student said: "If it isn’t stocked by Your Shop I rather doubt most people will care. It is after all, just another newspaper.

"Magazines like Cosmopolitan, which carry some rather dreadful articles, have been taken out of the firing range. Why is this ok, but page 3 isn’t? Most of those campaigning against these newspapers and magazines will never have read them. They’ve been told they’re sexist, so they won’t demean themselves by checking."

Responding to objections to the campaign, student Jaspari Guadalajara wrote on the group's Facebook page: "This isn't censoring a free press. This is about the Union that represents the students at York being representative of their views. This is not censorship- this is saying 'we do not want our Union to financially support a publication that thrives on sexual objectification and sexism'.

"This is a consumer-power campaign, not a censoring-the-press campaign."

Earlier this month Sheffield University's student union voted in favour of banning the sale of The Sun in its union shop, as part of a "no more page 3" campaign by the university's women's councillor. In December, the London School of Economics' students voted to stop selling the tabloid.

Both York University Student Union and The Sun have been contacted for comment but have yet to respond.