University in ‘mistaken’ ban on newspaper

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SHEFFIELD University provoked anger by briefly banning a student newspaper from halls of residence over the publication of an exposé of controversial new staff conditions.

Forge Press was initially told it could not distribute its latest edition at university-owned accommodation in the run-up to the arrival of new first-year students at the weekend.

The newspaper was also told it was unwelcome at introductory events at the halls, which include student villages in Endcliffe and Ranmoor, after it printed a story detailing the plans to hire staff on reduced wages.

The university, which has since reversed the ban, argued it had been ‘misrepresented’ by the article and had acted to protect its reputation.

The row broke out after Forge Press signalled its intent to publish a story about Sheffield Trading Services, a new subsidiary company launched by the hospitality arm of the University of Sheffield.

New staff hired to work in planned future hospitality and retail ventures will become employees of Sheffield Trading Services, rather than the university, and will earn lower wages than current university staff.

Forge Press accused the university of exploiting a loophole to slash pay, but the university argued the new company would create jobs and pay staff better than other academic institutions. It said it feared the article could damage relations with new students.

But Alisha Rouse, Forge Press editor, warned the ban set a dangerous precedent.

The 21-year-old history and politics student said: “The precedent it sets is concerning because it suggests they could do this every time we publish a story that holds the university to account - and it certainly won’t be the last time we do that.

“I honestly think the university has shot itself in the foot because all this has done is raise awareness of the story and got people talking about it.”

Jacqui Cameron, head of marketing and communications for the university’s accommodation and commercial services, said: “We believe our new students should not be faced with misinformed and misrepresented stories about our university upon first arriving in their new home.”

A university spokeswoman later said the ban had been ‘a mistake’ and had been revoked.