Students at Edinburgh Napier University are to hold a series of protests this week over the removal of a student newspaper from all campuses.
The protests will be held every day this week, both on campus and at the Scottish Parliament.
The row centres over issues of press censorship and began after independent student newspaper The Journal published an article detailing dissent, and a possible vote of no confidence against the current president Kasia Bylinska, at the Napier Student’s Association.
The article stated that allegations of six counts of unconstitutional behaviour had been made against Ms Bylinska and that eight programme representatives had signed a motion for an emergency meeting to enact a vote of no confidence in the president.
The NSA responded by removing all copies of the publication from the university, which has prompted accusations of press censorship by members of the student body.
Rik Carranza, who ran against Ms Bylinska in last year’s election, said: “This action taken by the NSA is disgusting and shares more in common with censorship in China than creating an equal playing field for election candidates which the elections committee is trying to justify.
“I am a proud member of the student union movement and have been for many years now and let me tell you, I have never seen such a flagrant disregard for freedom of speech in my time in NUS. The NSA has infringed basic human rights and they should not be allowed to continue”, he continued.
Edinburgh Napier University said: ” The University does not condone the decision of the NSA to remove copies of The Journal from its campuses.”
The campaign has earned support from SNP MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville. She said: “Freedom of the press is integral to any democratic society. The Journal is a valued resource in the city, keeping students up to date with student issues and wider current affairs – it is a respected paper and provides valuable experience and employment to…… those interested in the field of journalism. I hope that this current dispute is concluded as soon as possible.”
The protesters are also hoping to gain enough signatures on a petition for an emergency meeting for a vote of no confidence in Kasia Bylinska. This would over-ride the need for programme representatives to lend their support. The petition currently has over 200 signatures after just a few hours of campaigning.
Christopher Pilkington, one of the most active members of the protest and a programme representative for the Business Management with Marketing course, said: The idea of a university – a place that is intended to shape young minds – being actively censored is intolerable.
“We cannot be brought up to accept a censored press, particularly when the organisation doing the censoring is refusing to be held accountable to the students it claims to represent.”
Following the publication last week, all copies of The Journal have been removed from Napier campuses. The NSA have yet to issue a statement regarding the reasons for the removal and have so far declined to comment on the Journalgate protests.
Kenneth Dale-Risk, Law lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University said he did not believe the original Journal article to be defamatory stating that it was “an article of fact.”
Wed: 11 – 5 at Craighouse
Thursday: 11 – 5 at the Scottish Parliament
Friday: 4 onwards sit-in at Craighouse Campus
Follow the row on Twitter – just search #journalgate