A spectacular row is on the boil in Trinity College Dublin where the University Times (UT), newspaper of the Trinners Student Union, is being accused of bugging a student’s apartment. Trinity News (TN), the independent on-campus paper, has called for UT editor Eleanor O’Mahony’s resignation after it was revealed that her paper had been reported to the college authorities over the incident.
The UT had been investigating allegations of hazing rituals at the Knights of the Campanile, a Bullingdon lite, all-male sports club in Trinity. In an article published last Friday, the paper admitted that it had placed a microphone outside the door of Knights president Ben Arrowsmith’s college apartment in an attempt to record evidence of alleged hazing. The article by editor O’Mahony, Edmund Heaphy and Donal McNamee revealed that the microphone was discovered by one of the Knights, who held on to it.
The trouble started when, shortly after UT published the article online, TN ran a piece outlining the use of surreptitious recording by UT reporters and revealing that the paper had been reported to the university’s junior dean. In a follow-up editorial, TN editor Niamh Lynch and contributing editor Rory O’Sullivan said they had received “numerous tips” about the controversy in the previous week and had followed the story.
On Friday evening, when they were ready to print, they approached the UT for comment, which asked for time to prepare a statement. It was in this period, while the TN staff were waiting for the statement, that O’Mahony ran the hazing article, which TN’s Lynch and O’Sullivan called, “an attempt to PR manage rather than break an ethical story”. They also called for O’Mahony to resign.
This week, the UT published a statement justifying the use of recording as being in the public interest and announcing that the Oversight Board of the paper was looking into the matter. “We wish to make clear that we have no intention of indiscriminately bugging students’ apartments,” O’Mahony and co wrote. Thank goodness for that.