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Student paper banned from halls over controversial story

A student newspaper has been banned from distributing copies at the university’s halls of residence after publishing a controversial story.

Forge Press, the University of Sheffield’s student paper, said this week’s edition had been banned from the student villages and other university-owned residences.

Those who work on the publication were also told they were not welcome at events at residences during moving-in weekend at the university.

It comes after the paper published a story about the university setting up a subsidiary company to employ staff in the Accommodation and Commercial Services department, resulting in lower pay for workers.

Forge Press editor Alisha Rouse said: “The University’s attempt to censor its own student newspaper is the worst attempt at damage limitation I have ever seen by a media team.

“We owe students a duty of care to expose abuses of power at the expense of student welfare. This poor attempt at gagging has only made us pursue this with more vigour.”

The paper’s story reports that the subsidiary company, which would be known as Sheffield Trading Services, will be used this month to employ all new staff for ACS but staff would not be paid using the university’s pay model.

Jacqui Cameron, head of marketing and communications for Accommodation and Commercial Services, said: “Following discussions with the editor about the proposed story, we had serious concerns relating to the article.

“We believe our new students should not be faced with misinformed and misrepresented stories about our university upon first arriving in their new home. We believe this could damage their experience at what should be a positive time.

“Our concerns relate to unbalanced reporting and these have been proven founded in the article published, which gives us no opportunity to present the correct facts and explanation of what is a highly complex topic.

“The journalist has clearly shown a lack of understanding or carried out a full investigation of the topic prior to publication and has presented a very one sided report.

“We recognise that Forge Press is a valuable university society and we will continue to support its distribution in the Student Villages.”

The department told Forge Press that STS had been established to operate new hospitality and retail services which would create new jobs.

It said the casual rate of pay was lower than that offered by the university, but was the same as that available in the Students’ Union and those under 21 would be paid higher than the National Minimum Wage.


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  • September 17, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Similar thing happened to me when I was training. In an exercise on public documents and how to bypass ‘gatekeepers’, a friend and I requested the planning file on our own university’s new building.

    To our surprise, we discovered it had been built in breach of planning regulations, the council had at one point threatened to tear it down and relations between the university and the council had deteriorated so much that a university staff member said he had been ‘bullied’ by a member of council planning staff so badly that he felt it necessary to quit his job.

    When I attempted to publish the story in our student magazine, I was called into an office by uni management and told that if they ever saw the story published anywhere, I would be ‘jeopardising my position on the course’ and that the uni’s lawyers would be called in. In my inexperience (I was a first year student), I complied.

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  • September 17, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    My student paper was shut down after three issues by our uni….

    …. that said it was totally justified.

    A mature student on the course who saw himself as a modern day Woodward wrote a story accusing some councillors of some sort of shady dealing.

    He was also the editor of the paper I should point out.

    He did not go to the council to get a comment.

    The council went mad, as expected, but agreed not to take it any further if the paper was disbanded. Uni agreed (what choice did it have?) as it turned out the story was not true.

    This was in the first term of three year journalism course for me and left everyone vying to write for the much small Uni magazine, which only really covered reviews of local events.

    A good uni paper needs an experienced hand at the helm which Uni’s are not always able to provide.

    I also think that some students need to take a look at themselves. The majority seem to think they are there to expose corruption and scandal and go looking for it in places it doesn’t really exist.

    In the case above I do think the Sheffield team were right to run the story though.

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