Initiation Once Again


Scenes from the Kights of Campanile hazing ceremony under the campanile (bell tower) in the Library Square of Trinity College Dublin; NUJ ethics council chairman Professor Chris Frost

A referendum will take place at Trinity College Dublin in the final week of the current term where students will vote on the removal of The University Times‘ editor’s salary and a reduction in funding for the newspaper.

The University Times says if the referendum passes and the constitution of the Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union is changed, the newspaper will be allocated €3,000 a year for printing which would amount to covering just one newspaper issue a year.

The Hilary term at the college ends on Sunday, April 21.

The referendum follows The University Times‘ rival on-campus newspaper Trinity News editor Niamh Lynch and contributing editor Rory O’Sullivan calling for The University Times‘ editor Eleanor O’Mahony’s resignation.

This followed an article in the University Times about a hazing ceremony carried out on Trinity’s campus by the all-male sporting society, Knights of the Campanile.

The Trinity News editors took exception to the University Times’ reporters use of a recording device outside an apartment where the hazing ceremony was taking place to help obtain their story.

Further to this…

The National Union of Journalists ethics council chairman Professor Chris Frost said in a statement last night:

“Secret or secretive societies with limited, invitation-only membership with ritual initiation ceremonies and degrading humiliation of noviciates are a danger to the general public as they bring with them an unreasoning loyalty to a small group of people, usually an elite, often with a sex or class-based membership.

“Such unreasoning loyalty is already evident in some of the supporters of the Knights and emphasises the dangers of such societies.

“Because such groups are damaging to society generally, as they maintain the power and influence of that elite by exercising control and limiting membership, they are a suitable subject for newspapers and other media.

Exposing privilege and undue loyalty to such groups is important as they can lead to disproportionate and damaging outcomes. It is right that the media should expose such groups for what they are and right that a student newspaper should expose a student society of this sort.

“It is perfectly acceptable journalism to use a tape recorder to record conversations that can be heard in a corridor.

“The overriding public interest is obvious, given that this is a high-profile society with a long history and large membership.

“Initiation rituals, (often called hazing in an attempt to disguise their true nature) of the type described have no place on a university campus.

“If those involved really are concerned about issues of journalistic ethics then a complaint should be made to the Irish Press Council, the appropriate body to investigate such an incident.

“Both the Trinity News and University Times subscribe to the Press Council of Ireland’s code. Principle 3 of the code of practice clearly recognises the use of subterfuge by journalists acting in the public interest and could have been asked to investigate this story.

“However, the newspaper’s opponents have attempted to block funding and close the newspaper, making it clear that closure is their aim, not a concern about ethics.

“The proposed referendum has profound implications for the reputation of student journalism and the reputation of Trinity College Dublin.

“This is an appalling attempt to curtail a free press, the thin end of a wedge the Irish media can ill afford to permit. Ireland is a country with a strong record on press freedom with a sound media regulatory system.

“As chair of the NUJ’s ethics council I condemn this attempt to gag the newspaper and promise the NUJ’s full support for a free press in Ireland, and indeed the rest of the world.”

NUJ ethics council supports University Times coverage of hazing in Trinity College Dublin (NUJ)

Previously: Best Haze Of Our Lives


Former Trinity student, DPhil candidate in Criminology, and law lecturer at Oxford University Cian Ó Concubhair has tweeted his thoughts on the events at Trinity…

Cian Ó Concubhair

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19 thoughts on “Initiation Once Again

  1. kellMA

    I thought it was only daft americans that did stuff like this. I dont remember anything like this from my days at UNI but i guess I was probably just oblivious….

  2. eoin

    Apparently Trinity is also going to investigate the alleged hazing itself. Good for them, be a shame if they had confined their response to the revelations to shooting the messenger.

    This is what the University Times wrote:

    “On the night of February 27th, members of the society were taken to the apartment of Ben Arrowsmith, the president of the society. There, raised voices could be heard from outside the building as members were taunted, jeered at, and instructed to “bend over”, “get in the shower” and “start whispering insults in each other’s ears”.
    Arrowsmith did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication. This article will be updated once his response has been received.
    Members were told to “open your fucking mouth” and asked: “Why aren’t you on your knees?”
    During the ceremony, those present were also told to eat butter. “Who doesn’t like butter?”, a member said. “You all like butter.”
    “HIV is going on your toast tomorrow”, one said in raised tones.
    “Why are you in the shower?”, one was asked, and reporters could hear the noise of the shower from the corridor.
    The reporters from The University Times heard groaning, gagging and retching sounds emerging from the apartment.
    “It’s gonna be a long night, boys”, members were told before departing in rental cars for an unknown location.

    1. Papi

      “Eoin”, “why” “do” “you” “think” “we” “cant” “find” “it” “without” “you” “?”
      “Piggyback” “a” news” “site” “with” “news”
      ” “

  3. RuilleBuille

    University societies must be transparent in how students may join them. Otherwise withdraw their funding.

  4. class wario

    When this story initially broke, I was certain most would rightly side with the UT for digging something up on one of those awful secret society university boys clubs. It’s crazy to me to see that the public reaction has been, at best, evenly balanced and at worst to slam the UT for using hidden recording devices.

    Would be interesting to see what public figures are/were members of this group.

    1. Termagant

      It’s equally crazy to me how many people are unequivocally in favor of the press spying and reporting on the perfectly legal private actions of private individuals in their own homes just because they think it’s icky and they want to see some rich elitists humiliated. There’s no public good to be had here. No crime was committed, no one in attendance was forced to be there. There’s nothing for anyone to be held accountable for, there’s just the hunger to see snobby prigs get what the public think they deserve for being snobs and prigs.

    1. Conor

      Do yourself a favour and don’t go through the friends list. A horrific glance into the SOCO Dublin entitled set.

  5. Dub Spot

    Trinity News is the only decent student newspaper in TCD.

    This University Times nonsense comes with a salary and free rooms for the editor. It’s like an import from UCD.

    As for 3K an issue – raise advertising, dumbos.

    By the way, where’s the UT investigation into the old Tuesday Club, Hitler’s Birthday Party, David Irving 1988 affair. Some of the people there are now in high finance, politics, and legal jobs (male and female).

    And… let’s not forget Jacob Rees-Mogg also spoke at Trinity. Whatever about sporting bodies, the debating societies are/were a hotbed of reaction, an ersatz Oxbridge/Etonion milieu of west-brit, ex-pat Bojo, Thatcherite, and True Blue Tory wannabes made up of old fogeys/twinset and pearls 23 going on 65 brigade. And the don’t pay enough fees…

    Knights of the Campanile – Nights of the High Camp more like:

    Done to death already:

  6. Whatthehell

    Niamh Lynch and Rory OSullivan shame on you. I hope to look to a career that does not require ethical behaviour. A dispicable act. No honour in these people and would hate to see them in any position of power.

    1. Dav

      To clarify, the IT states niamh lynch does Not support the referendum, though her stance on protecting the elites is digusting

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