Pornographic magazines and The Sun are among publications which YUSU is being called upon to stop stocking in YourShop.
Helena Horton, a first-year philosophy student, set up a Facebook event today calling on students to request “offensive publications” no longer be stocked in the Union’s campus shop.
The edition of The Sun featuring the front page headline “3 Shots. Screams. Silence. 3 more shots” in reference to the death of Reeva Steenkamp is described as being particularly offensive because it “trivialised the issue”, had a picture of her in a bikini next to the headline, and “didn’t include her name”.
The aim of the campaign is “To get YUSU to stop selling offensive material.” Because “covering it up is not enough.”
Horton told Nouse that she wants the Union to stop selling “Any material that is openly prejudiced against minority groups that YUSU claims to support, such as women, racial minorities, LGBTQ and disabilities”.
According to Horton, the Union should not profit from anything which degrades those that it represents.
Scott Lishak, another supporter of the campaign and admin of its Facebook event added that the material would need a “long history of prejudice” in order to warrant a complaint about the Union selling it. He said, “The Sun is symbolic as it embodies the worst characteristics of gossip journalism and has little to no positive value.”
Despite an immediate backlash against the campaign from people claiming that it wants to enforce censorship, its members claim otherwise. Horton and Lishak said, “It has nothing to do with censorship. It’s about YUSU not representing its members.
“I don’t care whether they sell it somewhere else like Costcutter. I care about them selling it in a YUSU shop. I care about our Union profiting from things that devalue its members.”
Kallum Taylor, YUSU President told Nouse, “As with all areas of our services, YUSU welcome direction from our members to tell us how they think we should deliver them.”
He went on to say that this isn’t the first time this sort of issue has been raised, with something similar having gone to referendum in May 2011. The motion didn’t pass, but Taylor said, “The views of our membership can change over time, and so I’d encourage those behind this campaign to put the question forward again.”
Regarding the previous referendum, Horton said: “The other referendum was to put plastic covers over the lads’ mags, which I think was a weak move. They should take them out of YourShop all together so that YUSU can’t profit from them. The referendum didn’t accurately represent the student body’s views as nobody votes. Hopefully our campaign will get more people to vote.”
Lashik also said, “It shouldn’t require a referendum. It’s not a policy, it’s an action. It’s common sense.”
Bob Hughes, YUSU Welfare Officer, told Nouse that he looks forward to the issue going to referendum as he feels it “is an incredibly important topic to discuss”. He also said, “I encourage everyone to get involved in healthy debate about this topic, and voice their opinions on his respectfully.”