Sussex’s student newspaper seized by union
On Tuesday 29th September 2015, the University of Sussex Students’ Union seized the most recent issue of The Badger, their student newspaper, and allegedly suspended its editor, Paul Millar, after a story that was not approved by a Students’ Union representative was printed anyway.
The union’s issue with The Badger concerned a controversial story about a university student; a source at The Badger told The Mancunion that the union had demanded the name of the student to be printed and that the editor had refused, instead choosing to protect his source. The USSU has denied that this is the case and insists that the union did not ask for the student’s name to be printed.
According to our source, when The Badger decided to print the issue, arguing that there was no legal grounding to the union’s demands, newspapers were then confiscated before they could be circulated. However, a representative from the USSU told the Mancunion that this was not the case and that the next edition of the paper has gone to print as normal. Students also distributed some hard copies of the paper so “any hard copies were confiscated before they could be circulated” is also not accurate.
A statement from the Students’ Union said: “Each issue of The Badger has to be signed off by a Students’ Union representative before it is sent to print to ensure it complies with relevant legislation and to avoid the threat of litigation.”
Allegedly, the union’s issue was that “[the] process had not been followed for the most recent issue. The Badger was asked to not distribute the paper until it had been signed off in the correct way.”
The Badger’s response to the union’s actions was shown through their statement released on Tuesday, saying that “the Students’ Union did not cite any clear or specific legal reasons for blocking publication,” and furthermore, that “The Badger has received independent legal advice, saying all content was legally sound.”
A source at The Badger argued that actions taken showed the particularly authoritarian nature of USSU and the lack of a culture of free speech at their university.
The Badger stated to the Brighton and Hove News: “We are writers. We write about arts, sports, science and our opinions. We report news. We don’t want to argue with the union. We just want to write. The students of Sussex deserve to have an editorially independent newspaper.”
The USSU spokesperson added that: “The Students’ Union has not threatened to sack the Editor and did not demand the name of a student and/or source be printed. The paper should not have been printed or distributed, until it had been signed off in the correct way.”