The latest student controversy that has caught the attention of the media is the focus of much debate around ethical journalism and ethics within the all-male student society.
To recap, the Trinity college newspaper the University Times published a story detailing the initiation ceremony of all- male student society The Knights of the Campanile. Unethical reporting practices were used to obtain the information for this story as the two journalists involved in the reporting left a recording device outside the door where the alleged hazing was taking place. The University Times has defended the story stating that the story was in "the interest of the public".
Following this controversy, a petition was launched by Trinity students to remove the funding for the University Times Editor’s salary and accommodation from the Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) constitution following the incident. As a result of this petition, which gained over 500 signatures, a referendum will take place alongside GSU elections on Wednesday, 10th and Thursday, 11th of April.
On Monday, the society at the centre of the controversy The Knights of the Campanile released a statement, almost a month after the initial story was published. In the statement, the society condemned the practice of "trespass, invasion of privacy and bugging" by the University Times and state that the publication describes the Knights as a “secret society”, where they argue they are anything but, suggesting the articles are "not to be taken seriously."
In the latest development to this story, The University Times has responded to The Knights of the Campanile statement. Speaking to the Irish Independent, Editor of the University Times said:
“The statement from the Knights of the Campanile, which comes weeks after we first published our story, is obviously peculiar for a number of reasons, but mainly because it is the first time that anyone involved has denied that hazing took place”
“The focus on how we obtained our information is a distraction from the society’s appalling ritual humiliation practices. Practically every national journalist of note has defended both our methods and our reporting, with the National Union of Journalists calling our work on this story ’beyond reproach and consistent with the highest professional standards of public interest, investigative journalism’.
“Reporting on these appalling practices was in the public interest for a number of reasons, not least because of its high-profile membership, which includes highly prominent and influential businessmen like Peter Ledbetter. And its website provides very little information regarding the largely secretive nature of its activities”
Students will have the opportunity to decide on whether the newspaper's funding should be cut in light of these events. The question that will be asked is, "Do you agree with the changes to Chapter 10 of the TCDSU Constitution?". The University Times is financially supported by the students’ union and Chapter 10 in the TCDSU Constitution outlines details relating to the college newspaper.