As the Editor of our student’s online newspaper, it is sad for me to hear claims that our neighbouring university’s Students’ Union has subjected its student press to a ‘gagging order’. If institutions are interfering with its student press it casts serious doubts on their publications independence and transparency to students.
Student media offers CV-building opportunities to their student body that are often funded through by the establishments Students’ Union. It is my view that student outlets should be independently controlled to avoid any conflict of interest or nepotism. More importantly, the student media should be capable of holding its university and students’ union to account – whether to attack or defend and inclusive of any major financial decisions of mishaps.
The Met Online will be investigating as is receiving comment from Leeds Student tomorrow regarding recent speculations of censorship.
In my mind, the recent uncovering’s surrounding the case relate and highlight Lord Leveson’s currently ongoing inquiry into media ethics and the freedom of the press. Media outlets have a duty, if not a moral one, to investigate and identify any unsavoury or illegal actions that the public must be made aware of. Equally, it is my view that student media publications must remain true to the clichéd idiom, “by the students, for the students”. Any attempt to restrict the press must be seen as a step towards authoritarianism and a move to fog transparency and accountability.
Leeds University students’ received an email from Antony Haddley, Communications and Internal Affairs Officer, on the 4th October informing their student population of an internal investigation that has now been handed over to the police. Antony corresponded the following: “You may remember that during the summer, I sent you an email to inform you that a discrepancy had been uncovered within Leeds University Unions accounts and that an investigation into the circumstances surrounding it has been launched.” It is currently unknown whether this is of any relation to the alleged censorship of Leeds Student.
I apologise for using a worn-out phrase at the moment, but ‘student expectation’ must encompass and transcend their programme of study. I believe it must incorporate a right to free student press alongside which entails a duty to hold their university and student union accountable. In the age of (somewhat) transparent politics, we must expect the same from our institutions.
What do you think? Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts on the right to free press.
*Amended 19th Oct 2012 to clarify Leeds University’s Student Union is claimed to have issued the article withdrawal.
*Amended 19th Oct 2012 to clarify that all claims being made to Leeds Student are simply that.