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.”
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…