A rift has come between YUSU and University officials after the Union has decided to go against policy and is refusing to support the ban on putting up posters around campus. The Student Development Assembly, which met last week, was unanimous in its opposition of the University ban.
Whilst it has long been University policy to disallow all posters being put up around the University, there has recently been a campus wide crackdown on societies using posters to publicise their events.
During the assembly it was explained by James Croydon that the University felt that the ban was necessary because it was a fire risk. However Tim Ellis, YUSU President, spoke out against the ban, commenting that “there’s no real justification for it,” and stating the Union would support any societies who chose to defy the University over the issue as much as they could.
Croydon explained that the University has decided to ban the posters because of a problem with mess.
He added: “What I always get annoyed about is that they complain about societies postering but if you ever walk past one of them it’s purely random club nights in Leeds that are actually doing the messy postering.”
It is rare for the student union to not unanimously comply with University policy, and the two usually work in conjuction. It is unclear what the repercussions of this divide over policy will be.
The University approached YUSU at the beginning this academic year, asking for their assistance in upholding the postering ban, but Ellis told Nouse that YUSU had refused to take a role in enforcement.
David Duncan, Registrar and Secretary, the most senior non-academic post in the University, was firm on the subject, telling Nouse: “It’s in the interests of all members of the University community that we look after our facilities and maintain them in the best possible condition. To this end, we require all students – and staff – to follow the rules on postering and not to fly post in inappropriate locations”.
Whilst it is not possible for the University to fine societies with any currently existing mechanism, students will still run the personal risk of being subject to disciplinary action by the University if they are ever caught putting up posters on behalf of a society.
Sam Asfahani, York Sport President, was keen to stress the serious implictions for YUSU in their decision to defy the University, highlighting: “Don’t forget the University do control our budget, so they can go to us ‘right, next year your budget is cut by four grand.’”
Numerous societies have spoken out against the ban, arguing that is difficult to publicise events around campus without using posters.
Louis Luntz, Press and Publicity Officer for Dramasoc, has said, “as a campus performance society we need posters to advertise our shows.
“While Dramasoc has a standing audience who will go every week, being unable to poster prevents us reaching a wider audience across campus and makes the performances exclusive rather than inclusive.”
He also went on to add that: “Until we face the threat of actualfines there are no plans to stop postering.” Continuing: “Dramasoc will protect any of its members who are postering in a responsible fashion,” since, “if someone is putting up posters on behalf of Dramasoc then it is wrong that only they should be punished.”
Gemma Egan-Perkins, Chair of the York Labour Club, has also spoken out against the ban, saying: “The poster ban is detrimental to campus activities and should be reversed in order to allow societies to connect with all students.” She also added that: “The ban is completely disproportionate to the so-called problem of postering; there are other ways to go about it”
Ellis was adamant that “YUSU will not be fining or imposing any punishments on societies that continue poster in a responsible manner”, adding that he was working to find an alternative solution to the current divide between Union and YUSU wishes.
The renewed enforcement of the ban has also sparked an online petition, created by the anonymous campaign group Creativity on Campus to repeal the ban. It argues that: “Student societies provide outlets outside of academic study. They not only attract students to the University, but provide vital intellectual, creative and physical pursuits in and around campus.”
“The postering ban is detrimental to students and should be reversed societies to connect with all students
Chair of York Labour club – Gemma-Egan-Perkins
The group claims to have been started by: “People from both the student and staff body who want to ensure that York does not continue to remove the freedoms of the people who make up this University and its reputation as a world-class institution.”
The group has not affiliated itself with any campus societies, although members of the Dramasoc committee have moved to give them access to society minutes concerning their response to the ban on putting up posters.
In a statement, however, Dramasoc have said if: “DramaSoc supports YUSU and cannot support Creativity on Campus because we have a responsibility to our members to support YUSU. We will continue to poster in accordance with our own and YUSU’s policies. We recognise the importance of postering both financially and creatively.”
A University spokesperson has commented: “The University does not fine societies for putting up posters without YUSU consent, nor are there any plans to change this policy. The agreed protocol covering posters on campus remains unchanged.
“There is nothing new in the removal of posters that are not on designated notice boards where they might create a fire hazard or are unsightly. This rule is relaxed during elections as long as posters do not cause damage or create a fire risk. Additional notice boards have been provided at the start of this term for YUSU.”
The University has also faced widespread criticism after students noticed that Santander, who recently opened up a branch in Market Square, have been leaving promotional materials around campus where societies are not allowed to publicise their own events.
The spokesperson continued: “Unsurprisingly, Santander wished to publicise their new service to students on campus, but they do not enjoy any sort of exemption.”