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3rd October 2016

Response to SU apology

A reaction to the SU’s apology over a previous Opinion article to Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell

This week’s Mancunion features a piece written by representatives of University of Manchester Students’ Union. It apologises, on behalf of the Union, for any offense that an article of last week might have caused to Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell.

The editorial team of the Opinion section can see why Nancy Rothwell took offence to the article. As a prominent public figure—Vice-Chancellor and President of The University of Manchester, Fellow of the Royal Society, non-executive director of pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, and co-chair of the Council for Science and Technology—the opinions of student journalists must surely be a source of many sleepless nights.

Furthermore, we are delighted to understand the true nature of the Vice-Chancellor: “Transparent and genuinely interested in the student body.” We assume that threatening The Mancunion with defamation following a rather tranquil interview was but a sole anomaly.

We welcome the Union’s call for a “constructive relationship” with the university. In fact, we would like to call for another constructive relationship: that of the SU facilitating The Mancunion’s proper role in reporting (and providing honest opinions) on student issues.

We would rather the Union did not take actions such as requesting that its pre-written apology be featured in a “prominent position” in this week’s Mancunion. We feel that this is a direct attempt by the Union to tend to the image of the university, and hinders the former’s role in representing the student body.

Alas, we move on.

The drama caused by a single interview has taken us both, as well as many other members of The Mancunion’s editorial team, by surprise. Put simply: The Mancunion is a media outlet. We aim to provide the information that helps form the basis of progress in the university, particularly with regard to student issues. Our Opinion section is a haven of freedom of speech—a value that the Vice-Chancellor has claimed is valuable and important to her.

May we settle on this?

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