Students from Trinity College Dublin are circulating a petition to cut funding to the University Times, a student-run newspaper based on campus.
The University Times (UT) today reported that students are seeking to end the funding of a salaried position of Editor and stop the practice of providing on-campus accommodation for the Editor.
If the petition reaches 500 signatures, a referendum to amend the constitution of the Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) will be triggered. Funding for the paper would be reduced to €3,000 a year if the referendum passes, which would cover the publication of a single issue, according to a report in the University Times.
Editorial staff have come under pressure from students, campus media group Trinity News and TCDSU over the publication of an article surrounding an unofficial Trinity society, The Knights of the Campanile. Trinity News Editor Niamh Lynch called for the resignation of the University Times Editor Eleanor O’Mahony in an editorial published on 18th March.
Students writing for the University Times have been accused of bugging the accommodation of Ben Arrowsmith, a final year Law and Business student and captain of the Knights of the Campanile. The paper admits to placing a recording device outside his room in early March. University Times writers allege that Arrowsmith and others affiliated with the Knights of the Campanile were carrying out a ‘hazing ceremony’ which they monitored using the reporting device and by remaining nearby to listen.
Yesterday, senior staff members of the University Times released a statement in which they defended the use of the recording device. The TCDSU Board of Trustees has been requested to convene the Oversight Board to investigate the issue. The Board facilitates the resolution of issues that arise between the Times and the Union.
Earlier this year, the University Times reported that Trinity’s Boat Club had established traditions of violent hazing which involved whipping “novices” with bamboo sticks and canes.
In a statement published in the University Times, the Editor, Eleanor O’Mahony, responded to the petition, stating: “This proposal would represent the decimation of The University Times‘s funding. The immediate aftermath of controversy like this is not the time to make decisions about the long-term future of the paper.”
“It would also seem to me that this change would require a student to do the job of editing Ireland’s largest student newspaper for free”, she said, “and under the same rules and expectations as other sabbatical positions within the union.”
“The University Times has voluntarily asked for the Oversight Board to conduct a full and fair investigation into our reporting and we would ask students to allow this process to play out before any sudden decisions are made”, she added.