Students have launched a petition to remove the funding for the University Times (UT) Editor’s salary and accommodation from the Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) constitution following an incident in which UT placed a recording device outside a student’s on-campus accommodation.
The TCDSU constitution requires that TCDSU make “provision of a salary for the editor only, granted on a monthly basis during term”. The UT Editor also receives accommodation on campus in line with other members of the sabbatical team.
The petition proposes that a referendum be held to amend the constitution to read: “The Union shall not support the publication of the University Times in the following ways: (i) Provision of accommodation on campus during teaching term. (ii) Provision of a salary to any member of the staff of the University Times.”
The proposal further suggests that the UT Editor submit and present a written report at each TCDSU Council.
The proposed amendment retains the provision of an office and facilities for the newspaper, but seeks to remove the existing stipulation that an issue of the newspaper be printed at least once a month during each teaching term. It suggests that the union should provide “no more than €3,000 to the publication of the newspaper annually”.
Speaking to Trinity News, campaign member Robert Tolan said the group was concerned “with the rights of students”.
Tolan estimated the group had received 160 signatures at 2pm this afternoon.
When questioned on whether the group would submit a motion to TCDSU Council regarding UT, Tolan stated: “We’re considering all options at this time.”
Speaking to Trinity News, TCDSU President Shane De Rís stated: “As this is an ongoing democratic exercise it would be improper for me to comment on the content of the petition. Any petition presented to the Electoral Commission will be processed as per the constitution and if it proves legitimate will go before the student body for referendum.”
De Rís highlighted that there is currently “no limitation on the amount the Union expends on the University Times”.
Speaking to Trinity News, Editor of the University Times Eleanor O’Mahony said: “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 and under the same rules and expectations as other sabbatical positions within the union,” she continued.
“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.”
UT announced its decision yesterday to request the Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) Board of Trustees to convene a meeting of the paper’s Oversight Board to hear a dispute between UT and TCDSU.
UT is being investigated by the Junior Dean for placing a recording device outside the apartment of Ben Arrowsmith, a final year Law and Business student who serves as President of the Knights of the Campanile.
The newspaper, which is funded by TCDSU, published its findings on Friday evening in an article entitled “Knights of the Campanile Implicated in On-Campus Hazing Evening”, following a request for comment by Trinity News.
The article has received significant backlash from students since its publication, which details that UT reporters stood outside Arrowsmith’s apartment in House 37 where they heard “shouted instructions”, before placing a recording device outside the apartment door and waiting upstairs “out of sight for over an hour and a half”.
The Knights of the Campanile is an unofficial society with much of its membership comprising of prominent members of Trinity’s sports clubs.