United societies urge students to vote ‘no’

Leeds University Union (LUU) societies across campus are joining forces, telling students ‘don’t get gagged’.

Next week, a Better Union idea to “extend [the] exclusion of hate speakers and fascists to student media” will be voted on across campus. The idea was submitted after Leeds Student printed and interview with MEP Nick Griffin.

Rehema Figueiredo, Leeds Student Associate Editor and leader of the ‘no’ campaign, said: “Whether or not you agreed with the decision to publish the interview, this idea would severely limit what student media can and can’t report on. The Union shouldn’t be able to have such a say in what societies do and should not become the thought police. We must resist being overprotected by it.”

The campaign will see students’ photos going up around campus with tape over their mouths. A Facebook group has also been created for students to show their support for the ‘no’ campaign.

Rosanna Pound-Woods, President of Her Campus, is also backing the campaign. She said: “As a new society we wanted the support of LUU as we believed it would aid us in development and expansion. What we didn’t expect was that being affiliated with the Union could potentially lead to being controlled, even censored, by them. We feel a duty towards our writers to provide them with a platform for their views. The UK has a free press, a pinnacle of democracy – why should this be any different for student media?”

Currently, LUU’s ‘no platform’ policy bans hate speakers and fascists from coming onto campus. Rehema added: “The current policy protects students from hate speakers who could pose a physical threat by being on campus. This new idea is hot a logical extension, because students can choose what they read, watch and listen to.”

Voting takes place online from Monday November 26 to Thursday 29.

Words: Lucy Snow

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