Students to vote on the future of The Badger
The publication could soon be independent from the SU
Following recent tensions between the University of Sussex students’ union and their paper, The Badger, students will be able to vote on whether or not the newspaper should become independent from the SU. The referendum will take place in early December, before the Autumn term is over.
Publication of a recent issue of The Badger was severely delayed for legal reasons, and the SU later permitted only censored copies of the publication to be distributed. Writers and readers alike tweeted #yourecullingus in protest against this press censorship.
The paper’s Editor in chief, Paul Millar, who had been democratically elected for his position, was fired by the SU. Millar is not this first in this position: the SU has suspended two out of four of its previous Badger Editors.
A revised version of the controversial story was later published. SU President Abe Baldry deemed the publication of this story to be an example of The Badger “clobbering” the SU and “spinning” stories which would show the SU in a bad light.
Speaking to The Badger this week, Paul Millar said: “Three editions of the newspaper this term have been delayed due to so-called legal concern, and I take the opinion that these delays spring from an unfounded anxiety over being sued.
“Nobody has sued me or the university over our article about the university being sued by a former student.”
Most believe that independence from the SU would grant The Badger greater press freedom, as the SU currently have to approve all stories before they are distributed. The suspended member of staff’s access to the main email was removed as is typical when someone is suspended. Access was subsequently granted to the Acting Editor.
Speaking to the Badger this week, ex-Online Editor, Miriam Steiner said: “We need to become independent so we can report on what matters to students; we don’t want to be a union mouthpiece.”
The SU currently subsidises the publication of The Badger, which costs more to print than it makes in advertising. Should the paper break away from the SU, they could face funding issues, but would also be free to sell advertising space which may even increase profitability. However, an independent Badger would likely have to be run fortnightly initially to combat high costs.
Students will be able to vote online between Monday, December7th and Friday, December 11th.