Cherwell is Oxford University’s oldest student newspaperFalco/Pixabay

Oxford SU is to introduce a ‘Student Consultancy of Sensitivity Readers’, who will be elected and paid to check articles prior to publication, according to reports from the Telegraph and MailOnline this morning (21/06).

The decision follows criticism of Oxford student newspaper Cherwell in a motion to Oxford SU, although the measure will primarily affect The Oxford Student.

Cherwell is independent from the SU and is the University’s oldest student newspaper, founded in 1920.

Meanwhile, The Oxford Student is funded and distributed by the Oxford SU.

According to the Telegraph, Oxford SU has claimed that “problematic articles” are currently being published, including “implicitly racist and sexist” pieces, as well as those that are “just generally inaccurate and insensitive.”

Meanwhile, students have reportedly claimed that there is a “need for better editing” at Cherwell, due to “high incidences of insensitive material being published”.

According to MailOnline, the SU council passed a motion to introduce the Student Consultancy last month by 26 votes to 5.

However, the proposal has prompted backlash from Cherwell alumni, who have referred to it as “bonkers” and “horrific”.

Michael Crick, a former BBC broadcaster and Cherwell editor, told the Telegraph: “if you’re going to have a boring, dull, vetted newspaper then nobody’s going to read it.”

In January, Cherwell faced backlash to an article “reappraising” Richard Wagner following claims that it was anti-Semitic, after which the piece was removed.


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The introduction of sensitivity readers comes amidst recent controversy over free speech at universities, including the introduction of a government “free speech champion” and 150 Oxford dons threatening to boycott teaching after Oriel College refused to remove a statue of Victorian imperialist, Cecil Rhodes.

Cherwell told Varsity: “We have not been directly informed of these plans by the SU at any point,” but added that they had seen the motion by the SU.

The continued: “We maintain high editorial standards as a paper, and are constantly looking for ways to improve our reporting and editing processes”, and stressed that “our editorial independence remains unchanged.”

Varsity has contacted Oxford SU for comment.

This article was updated on 25/06 to clarify that Cherwell has not been criticised by the SU itself, rather a motion brought to the SU, and that the primary publication affected by the introduction of sensitivity readers is The Oxford Student.