On the evening of 29th November 2016, the University of Plymouth Students’ Union (UPSU) Union Executive Council - the highest democratic decision-making body in the Union - passed with a large majority a motion calling for a stop of the sale of the Daily Mail, the Sun and the Daily Express and their Sunday editions in the UPSU run shop based on campus.
Whilst we believe that freedom of expression and speech are inalienable human rights, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a number of British tabloids are known to express hateful views. They aim at belittling and demonising certain groups in society, such as immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, disabled people, the LGBTIQA+ community, Muslims, Black and Asian communities. People that publicly express sympathetic views and solidarity with these communities are also known to be targeted.
In 2015 the UN condemned the UK for the “incitement to hatred by British tabloid newspapers”. The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein expressed concerns stating that: “under the guise of freedom of expression, [racism and xenophobia] are being allowed to feed a vicious cycle of vilification, intolerance and politicization of migrants, as well as of marginalized European minorities such as the Roma.”1
As UPSU, it is our duty to protect and empower and represent marginalised and discriminated against groups. UPSU is a safe space in which any abusive language or behaviour is not tolerated. UPSU opposes hatred, discrimination and demonisation of any individual, regardless of their age, gender, sex, ethnicity, disability, social status, education, employment or religion. Because of these very values that we hold and we are proud of, we believe that it is unethical for us to profit out of the sale of hateful, non-factual and anti-scientific media platforms.
Stopping the sale of these newspapers from the SU Shop does not mean they are banned from Plymouth University campus. Students can access them online or they can buy them from alternative retail outlets if they wish to do so.
As of the start of 2017 UPSU will no longer sell the Daily Mail, the Sun and the Daily Express and their Sunday editions in the SU Shop.