City University students vote to ban tabloids on campus in show of solidarity with Brexit judges

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By Alex Aldridge on

We’re guessing the GDL, LPC, BPTC and LLB cohorts weren’t big readers, but still…


Students at one of the most popular institutions for law in the country could be prevented from reading right wing tabloids after City University London’s Student Union voted to ban The Sun, Daily Mail and Express from its campus.

With law students tending to go for higher brow material, and most millennials favouring online news over print to such an extent that City has no retail outlets for newspapers on campus, the ban is largely symbolic (although anyone with a penchant for occasional visits to the Mail Online may be worried).

But the fact that it has been voted for is riling the Twitter commentariat, many of whom view it as yet another example of an unhealthy preciousness and fragility afflicting youth culture.

In its motion, the City Students Union note, among other things, that the tabloids “called 3 high court judges enemies of the people, mirroring Nazi propaganda and undermining the rule of law in the UK”.

Criticism is also levelled at the papers for their coverage of refugees and minorities, Hillsborough Disaster the Battle of Orgreave.

The Union goes on to argue that “freedom of speech should not be used as an excuse to attack the weakest and poorest members of society,” adding that “the media has a duty not to stir up racial tensions and hatred just to sell papers.” The students conclude:

There is no place for the Sun, Daily Mail or Express (In their current form) on City, University of London campuses or properties. To promote, amongst City students, the active pressuring of the aforementioned media outlets to cease to fuel fascism, racial tension and hatred in society.

City University, which recently became part of the University of London, runs one of the most comprehensive range of law programmes in the country, including the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), Legal Practice Course (LPC), various undergraduate law degrees, a host of LLMs and the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC). Its longstanding connection with the Inns of Court School of Law, which it subsumed into The City Law School in 2001, means that it counts many leading barristers and judges among its alumni.

City’s official statement on the matter has been authored by the head of its journalism school. Professor Suzanne Franks said:

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.

A law graduate who studied the postgraduate journalism course at City told Legal Cheek:

Broadly I’m always at least a bit uncomfortable with the idea of banning publications at all. But at the same time, in practice what the City union has done is entirely symbolic: if any students still want to read those papers, or anything else that isn’t sold around City, they have plenty of other ways to do it. In reality most postgrad City journalism students have essentially no contact with the union during the few months they spend at the university, bar having a few drinks in the bar, so I doubt it will affect them much. They can make up their own minds about whether they want to read the banned papers, and if they’d want to work for them.

We also spoke to a current City LLB student, who told us:

I attended the AGM yesterday and I think the move to ban these papers is foolish and meaningless. Banning these papers on campus won’t prevent City students from accessing The Sun and Daily Mail on their phones or buying them outside campus. Besides, people are allowed to make and form their own opinions, we shouldn’t take that away from students.