Motion 314: one step forward, two steps back

SUs are going to stop controlling student newspapers, but now the NUS wants to censor Facebook.

Motion 314: one step forward, two steps back

(This is a comment piece. It contains the unedited opinions of an anonymous contributor. It does not contain the doctrine of the Hoar.)

Motion 314, resolved after two days of wrangling, was a response to the near-universal student union practice of blocking coverage of their elections — largely to protect the feelings of the wannabee politicos running for office.

The outgoing SPA chair claims that ‘many student unions effectively gag their student newspapers on reporting anything but propaganda during their elections’.

Motion 314 is good news then — for the Boar and for all the other student papers. They can hope that they’ll soon be allowed to write freely about candidates, as the Hoar does.

But let’s not delude ourselves into thinking the NUS is ending it’s love affair with censorship. On Tuesday, the body resolved that it should should “open a dialogue with Facebook, Twitter and Yik Yak to introduce restrictions on anonymous and ‘troll’ accounts during election periods”.

The NUS has accepted that controlling student paper coverage of elections on bullying grounds is damaging to the questionable democracy of student politics. Unfortunately, it’s set its sights higher: SUs won’t meddle with the lovable rag crafted in the office next door, but they are eager to poke about in the workings of three US social media multinationals.

The resolution sought to rid the world of ‘anonymous’ accounts — like, er, this paper’s Facebook page. Also like the entirety of Yik Yak and, if you include the ‘troll accounts’ part, pretty much anybody our elected SU representatives decide is being nasty.

At least one of our dear sabbs has already voiced her opposition to Motion 314. Wynne’s stance is presumably coloured by the puzzling election scandal in which she was involved. [see amendment below]

Election censorship has been reversed: SU affiliated papers will hopefully gain the freedom to write objectively about union electoral candidates. It’s unfortunate that — on social media at least — individuals might be about to lose that freedom.

Following the publication of this article, Ms Wynne tweeted the Hoar to clarify that she does not support the censorship of student media.