UPDATE: Le Nurb has been informed that the Union of Brunel Students has removed Appendix A of the independence motion.
Appendix A contained three articles that were removed from Le Nurb or vetoed by the President within the last two years. Le Nurb has since been asked by a Union senior member of staff to additionally amend the motion as it appears through the link below to remove the 'material of contention'.
The Union spokesperson said, "the piece[s were] pulled and therefore by issuing it as an appendix to a publicly published Union Meeting motion, it is essentially just being published by another route[...] it would be inappropriate to publish the article in full as the material of contention is still included."
Le Nurb would like to stress that the following article is the opinion of the Editor-in-Chief and does not necessarily reflect the stance of the Editorial Team, Le Nurb's contributors or the Union of Brunel Students.
This month, I have submitted a motion to the General Union Meeting (to be held on Thursday 27 November at 6pm in Lecture Centre Theatre E) proposing the amendment of a Union bye-law. Amending the bye-law will grant Le Nurb a greater independence from the Union of Brunel Students.
You can read the motion here: Motion
Please note that Appendix A has been redacted by the Union of Brunel Students.
At the moment, Le Nurb, Brunel’s student newspaper, is owned, controlled and financed by the Union of Brunel Students. This ownership can be extremely beneficial for both parties: the Union organises advertising revenue and tops it up to finance a print run. Le Nurb is produced on a monthly(ish) basis and runs 1000 copies for campus distribution. Meanwhile, the Union is happy to utilise Le Nurb to advertise nightlife and Union initiatives.
While it’s great to spread the good work of the Union and have a print run of the newspaper, there are also some massive drawbacks to Le Nurb’s affiliation with UBS.
Essentially, while contributors and editors write, select and compile the stories that go in Le Nurb, the Union has the power to veto articles at any given time.
According to the Union bye-laws, the Union President or Media Chair may remove content from the newspaper if the article does any of the following:
i. breaches the law of the land
ii. breaches UBS policy;
iii. breaches guidance from the Press Complaints Commission and OFCOM;
iv. brings the UBS into disrepute.
The problem with point iv of this bye-law is the concept of ‘disrepute’. What exactly is disrepute? And what constitutes bringing the UBS into disrepute? Last year Le Nurb reported on the less-than-savoury actions of an elected representative, who, amongst other things, called a student a ‘prick’ on Twitter. After this article was published I received a phone call from a senior member of Union staff who told me to remove the article from the website immediately. This is despite physical evidence of the tweet, and the article being both accurately and carefully written. The article did not violate any bye-law except that it could be seen to bring the Union into disrepute.
This is censorship.
It is absolutely not acceptable for the Union to censor the student press in an attempt to, in my opinion, ‘save face’ and preserve reputations. The purpose of student media is to criticise and scrutinise the behaviour of our elected representatives and hold our Union (and University) to account. We cannot do this when almost anything we publish can be vetoed on the grounds of an extremely subjective bye-law.
I’m submitting this motion to amend the bye-law and move Le Nurb towards a freer, more independent student media here at Brunel. Le Nurb will not tolerate censorship, and I sincerely hope that the student body will stand by Le Nurb and support this motion.
We want to be able to act as a conduit for the student voice; we exist to express your opinion and help ensure that your voice at Brunel is heard and made potent. Under bye-law 3.3.13 iv we cannot draw attention to any inaction, any misbehaviour or any abusive of power committed by elected officials. This bye-law, at present, has the potential to reduce the newspaper to a piece of Union press propaganda, should the Board of Trustees wish to make it that. This is unacceptable.
With the general election around the corner, the ability for the press to report freely and without interference has never been more vital.
Unlike Student Assembly, any student can vote at a Union meeting. I implore all Brunel students who believe in freedom of speech to attend the Union Meeting on Thursday 27 November at 6pm in Lecture Centre E and support Freedom of the Press by voting to pass this motion.