The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Students’ Union bans The Sun

– Eighteen students vote in favour of ban, two against
– Eighty-three per cent of students surveyed by The Mancunion think Exec should spend time on other things, 59 per cent disagree with ban


Students have banned The Sun from being sold in the Students’ Union shop following a Union assembly last week.

The motion to boycott the newspaper, coming on the heels of the ‘No More Page 3’ campaign, was voted on by a panel of twenty randomly selected students on Wednesday October 2.

Eighteen students voted in favour of a ban, while two voted against.

This makes Manchester Students’ Union the seventeenth university or college to ban the tabloid, which is the UK’s best-selling newspaper.

Women’s Officer Tabz O’Brien-Butcher took to social media to show her support, “Great to see that students at the University of Manchester want to take a stand against media sexism and the sexual objectification of women!”

The ruling has sparked new debate about the assembly process after it emerged that 18 students make up just 0.045% of the 39,165 student population at the University.

David Michael Howe, a Middle Eastern studies student, said, “Why have student participation when you can get the result you want by only telling people who already are actively involved?”

Becky Montacute, a PhD Neuroscience/Immunology student, said a mass vote would have been beneficial.

“A referendum would have allowed for a discussion on campus on why Page 3 is so awful for women, that now won’t happen, and that’s a really sad thing,” she said, adding, “I also think it sets an awful precedent, there’s no reason why this couldn’t also happen to any other paper – even if you think it was right to ban The Sun.”

Student assemblies involve twenty randomly selected students tasked with voting on issues raised by their fellow students.

The panel must reach a three-quarters majority either for or against the idea, or the issue goes on to an all-student online referendum.

‘No More Page 3’ show their support of the move in a statement posted to their facebook page, “Yesterday the University of Manchester became the [17]th (including 4 Oxford Colleges) to stop stocking The Sun in support of No More Page 3.

“They stand in solidarity with the British Youth Council and Girl Guides making it clear that the young people of this country will not tolerate media sexism and the casual objectification of 50% of the population.”

In an interview with The Mancunion last month,  ‘No More Page 3’ campaign team member Stephanie Davies-Arai said, “I don’t think bans work.

“You change some things but you don’t change people’s hearts and minds. With the campaign as it is, people are becoming more aware of page three.”

The Students’ Union shop sold 722 copies of The Sun last year, generating a profit of £72.20.

In an effort to gauge student opinion on the ban, The Mancunion surveyed 155 randomly selected students on campus last Thursday.

Of those students, 129 – 83 per cent – did not think the Exec should be spending their time on getting The Sun banned from the union shop.

“It’s an issue that’s not particularly relevant”, said Philip Beetch, a third year Management student. “There are bigger issues that should be addressed.”

First year Religions and Theology student Amy Laithwaite said, “Time is better spent fundraising.”

Other students supported the time spent by Exec members.

Georgina Rawes, a third year History student, said, “The casual sexualisation of women is one of the greatest challenges we face, and I’m proud that the Union is aiding this struggle.”

Fifty-nine per cent of those surveyed also said that they did not agree with the Union’s banning of The Sun.

“People have the right to a choice, whether they look at it or not,” said Laithwaite.

Nick Mackris, a first year Chemistry student, said, “I think it’s a woman’s choice if she wants to be seen like that.”

Whereas fourth year Speech and Language Therapy student Sarah Cook said, “I agree with the ‘No More Page 3’ campaign and the move to ban The Sun in the Union.

“Half naked women are not news, and such an influential paper should not support the objectification of women.”

When asked for comment on the poll results, Women’s Officer Tabz O’Brien-Butcher defended the panel voting system.

She said, “Disagreement with the content of an idea and the method by which we undertake democratic decisions with the Students’ Union are clearly different.

“Given that the issue here seems to be our democratic process, the assembly system was passed with a huge majority in a referendum voted in by over 2000 students as the way in which students at University of Manchester wished to undertake Union democracy.

“Assemblies are now in use for their third academic year and are largely popular with students.”

  • Joe C

    I went to the Union Assemblies myself last week. David Michael Howe seems to be mistaken – the people who vote are not students who are actively involved they are randomly selected students (as your article states).
    But this presents an issue which I found at Assemblies; apart from the panel, the vast majority of people who attended the assemblies in the audience were the exec, who were able to put forward very persuasive and eloquent arguements. If someone is not involved with the SU, I can see why it would be very easy to be convinced and persuaded by the voices of the exec that to vote in a particular way would be the right thing to do; it’s a shame that the students offering dissenting opinions in this article didn’t turn up to assembly (or tell their reps, and get their reps to go to assembly) and express their opinions. I am interested by Tabz saying that assemblies ” are largely popular with students” – I am not sure how well that fits in with my experience of turning up to the Thursday assembly and being the only person there who was just a ‘normal’ student, and not being paid by the SU (i.e apart from the exec, the paid voters, the paid chair and other members of SU staff). I was also one of only 3 non-exec people putting forward ideas to this assembly in the 3 days that these assemblies ran for.
    Also, Tabz is mistaken in saying that over 2000 students voted for this new structure (bearing in mind students werent voting saying that this wasnt the best , or most ideal, structure, just that it was better than the old one.) Less than 2000 did, which is why the trustees needed to vote in the new assembly in order to create it (back then there was such a thing as quorum – i.e. the minimum number of students needed to vote in an idea in a referendum, and this idea came well below that quorum, so the vote by students did not make it valid.)

  • Student

    Out with the NUS. Good for nothing but a card.

  • ivan

    It’s only just emerged that 18/39165 * 100 = 0.045959402528. It’s not like we’re at university or anything..

  • andy1

    I find it mildly surprising that more people aren’t pissed off at the
    scumbags in charge of the union. They get paid £17,000 per year of
    students money to do fuck all other than make pathetic statements
    justifying their corruption. The only decisions they make are how next
    to restrict the freedom of students, banning the sun, banning the OTC
    etc or how to fund their own stupid vanity projects like £7000 of
    students’ money for a
    bunch of nutjobs to walk down a road and piss everybody off without consulting anybody other than themselves.
    the assemblies are a shit idea. The students are not randomly selected.
    Out of a random sample of the population, students are selected by
    their race, gender, sexuality etc to fulfill a very precise quota. They
    might as well not have the random part at all, it’s deliberately
    misleading. The students selected are then paid and are therefore
    clearly influenced by the opinions of the retarded execs.

    in the audience is a member of some kind of radical fundamentalist
    activist group associated with the union, weirdos with nowhere else to
    go to feel accepted and who represent nobody other than themselves. Even
    better, when someone selected for the assembly doesn’t turn up, the
    execs choose a member of one of these groups to take their place. The
    members from the groups associated with the union who make up virtually
    the entire audience, are told what questions to ask in an attempt to
    steer the debate, stealing the opportunity from any normal unaffiliated
    person to ask any questions.

    But the reason it’s only mildly
    surprising is that nobody knows about it, because no normal person gives
    a shit about the SU. There were no normal people there. The whole union
    community is a clique. All the execs know all the ‘activists’, half of
    them are/were members of those groups.

    So we end up in a
    situation where the veteran women’s officer, who began as a member of
    the womens’ activist group, the person behind the £7000 slut walk, who
    acts ridiculously unprofessionally if you check any of her tweets makes
    some BS comment about how she’s so proud of the students at the assembly
    who stood up for her extreme radical ideology, when in fact the general
    opinion of students as proven by the poll is that she should fuck off
    and in fact they would actually prefer it if the union spent its time,
    students’ money and resources on helping them, instead of limiting their
    freedom to make their own choices like an authoritarian dictatorship,
    such as whether to buy a newspaper or talk to people about becoming a
    navy cadet.

    This proves the assemblies don’t work, it’s a
    controlled and corrupt method for the execs and activists to get what
    they want, in the name of the whole student population, when in fact
    they’re doing it for themselves.

    No typical student would elect
    to delegate their own free will to these morons or trust that their
    interests are adequately represented at these fixed assemblies by such a
    small number of specifically selected and bribed panel members.
    The whole union is a festering cesspit of dangerous slimy narcissists who know what they’re doing.
    it would be better if the union focused completely on helping students
    in need in matters such as housing, finance, legal issues, complaints
    with the uni and courses etc. Instead we get vastly overpaid, vastly
    under-qualified tyrants who want to spend our money on ridiculous
    projects that help nobody or ban us from making our own decisions.

    order to change it, you’d have to go through the smelly, fixed, corrupt
    process that they set up, which nicely bypasses the need for a general
    student consensus. They are in control of any proposal that is taken to
    the assembly and that’s why they can sit smugly, browsing their facebook
    newsfeeds in the SU building with no real job to do, while students’
    money is fed into their bank accounts, because they know their positions
    are safe and they are untouchable.

    With a quick google or browse
    of the mancunion, one can find quite a lot of information about the
    disgusting and unprofessional behavior of the execs.
    influencing what societies(the only good thing about the union) do in
    order to support their own ideology, not turning up to work for a month
    because you know you’ll get paid anyway, offending israel, offending
    palestine.. It’s actually ridiculous.

    This together with the
    amount of self publicising and incredibly offensive and unprofessional
    comments, makes you wonder if these people who are only in it for
    themselves actually think they are enhancing
    their employability…

  • Andy 4 Prez

    Andy, you should run for election. You seem angry.

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