In December, Queen Mary University London’s (QMUL) student union controversially banned the sale of The Sun, Express and Daily Mail in university outlets.
Led by the university’s Free Speech Society, protesters also covered the student union building with copies of The Sun.
Emily Dinsmore, one of the student demonstrators, wrote in a Spiked article: “We wanted to make the point that standing up for press freedom, and the right of people to read what they like, does not mean endorsing a particular newspaper or political viewpoint.”
“In typical censorious fashion, they were removed almost instantly by students’ union representatives,” Dinsmore told Heat Street.
There have been mixed reactions to the student protest. Photos of Queen Mary students holding copies of the red top were shared by the group, while others showed their support on Twitter:
However, protestors also faced a barrage of online abuse from members of the public opposed to The Sun and its political stance, slamming the group as a “total pack of bellends” and calling one of the women a “daft slag”.
“Give yourself a pat on the back for spreading bigotry,” one man tweeted, while others shared photos of some of the tabloid’s “notorious” front pages.
“This is disgusting after what they did to Liverpool,” another social media user wrote, referencing the newspaper’s handling of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.
They added: “You should be ashamed.”
A spokesperson for The Sun said: “These young students deserve enormous credit for defying their peers and standing up for free speech and the ability to take an informed decision about what one reads, rather than have it dictated from above.
“This stand is even more impressive when you see the disgusting hate and abuse they’ve suffered on social media as a result.”
The tabloid ban at QMUL follows a growing trend on UK university campuses.
City University of London, famed for its world-class journalism school, hit the headlines in November when the student union banned the sale of the Sun, Express and Daily Mail on campus – despite the fact there was nowhere to buy them from in the first place.
A ban on tabloid newspapers is also set to be implemented at Plymouth University this month.