by Harriet Line
The Sheffield University student publication, Forge Press, has been banned from distributing the paper at university halls of residence in an attempt to supress a story on the University’s employment practices.
Although the ban was soon rescinded, the paper had already created a media storm about the move leading to increased publicity for the article, something the paper’s editor, Alisha Rouse, described as the “worst attempt at damage limitation I have ever seen by a media team.”
The story detailed how the University’s Accommodation and Commercial Services (ACS) had created a subsidiary company to employ all of their new staff which will bypass University standards of pay and conditions, resulting in higher profits but lower wages for workers.
Last year, the ACS ran a deficit of £98,000, but through using a Special Purpose Vehicle business model, they intend to achieve of profit of £223,000 by 2016.
Sheffield University Students’ Union promotes the Living Wage Policy to ensure all university staff, including many students, receive a fair salary – said to be £7.20 per hour. All new staff, however, will be paid at rates of National Minimum Wage, which could be as low at £6.08.
The head of Marketing and Communications for ACS, Jacqui Cameron, said that, “Following discussions with the editor about the proposed story, we had serious concerns relating to the article.
“We believe our new students should not be faced with misinformed and misrepresented stories about our university upon first arriving in their new home. We believe this could damage their experience at what should be a positive time.
“Our concerns relate to unbalanced reporting and these have been proven founded in the article published, which gives us no opportunity to present the correct facts and explanation of what is a highly complex topic.
“The journalist has clearly shown a lack of understanding or carried out a full investigation of the topic prior to publication and has presented a very one sided report.
“We recognise that Forge Press is a valuable university society and we will continue to support its distribution in the Student Villages.”
Photographs: Getty Images