On Wednesday, February 27th, reporters from The University Times witnessed an initiation ceremony for members of the Knights of the Campanile – the elite, invite-only Trinity sporting society.
The Knights of the Campanile, established in 1926 – ostensibly to “further the sporting activities” of the College – is an all-male society with over 1,200 members. A maximum of 50 student members are allowed at any one time.
In the past, the Irish Times has described the organisation as “an obscure all-male elite sporting society with mysterious entry procedures and a reputation for alcohol-fuelled high-jinks”.
On the night of February 27th, members of the society were taken to the apartment of Ben Arrowsmith, the president of the society. There, raised voices could be heard from outside the building as members were taunted, jeered at, and instructed to “bend over”, “get in the shower” and “start whispering insults in each other’s ears”.
Arrowsmith did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication. This article will be updated once his response has been received.
Members were told to “open your fucking mouth” and asked: “Why aren’t you on your knees?”
During the ceremony, those present were also told to eat butter. “Who doesn’t like butter?”, a member said. “You all like butter.”
“HIV is going on your toast tomorrow”, one said in raised tones.
“Why are you in the shower?”, one was asked, and reporters could hear the noise of the shower from the corridor.
The reporters from The University Times heard groaning, gagging and retching sounds emerging from the apartment.
“It’s gonna be a long night, boys”, members were told before departing in rental cars for an unknown location.
According to the society’s website, members of the Knights of the Campanile “are nominated for election in recognition of their contribution to College sport in a playing or organising capacity”.
The initiation began, on the night of February 27th, under the Campanile in Front Square. Members of the Knights were left standing under the Campanile for more than an hour, before being joined by a number of other members.
The Knights formed a circle under the Campanile before moving in formation to the Printing House and another location outside Áras an Phiarsaigh. There, the group was told to complete exercises and count in different languages.
Next, members were led to Arrowsmith’s apartment in House 37, where the initiation was taking place. Reporters from The University Times stood outside the building, where shouted instructions could be heard coming from within the second-floor apartment. The windows of the apartment were blacked out.
Other reporters from the newspaper gained access to the building at 7.30pm, finding the door of the apartment wedged open, with loud voices clearly audible from the corridor. The reporters placed a recording device outside the apartment and proceeded to wait upstairs out of sight for over an hour and a half.
Different members entered and exited the apartment at various points throughout the night.
Members left Trinity in groups. Some left in rental cars, while others proceeded to Nassau St on foot, where they moved off in rental cars. The University Times was unable to verify the final destination of the Knights after their departure.
Members of the Knights of the Campanile discovered the recording device in the corridor after stepping outside the apartment and kept it with them.
The following day, on Thursday February 28th, Arrowsmith came to the office of The University Times with the recording device and threatened legal action. Arrowsmith called the Editor of the newspaper, Eleanor O’Mahony, a “stupid bitch”, and said he would hand over the recording device once he had deleted the recording of his “pre-drinks”.
Arrowsmith suggested that The University Times had breached journalistic ethics even though national media outlets, such as RTÉ and the Irish Times, have routinely conducted similar investigations using covert recording devices.
Arrowsmith returned to the office an hour later to discuss The University Times’s reporting and promised to return the recorder later on once the recording had been deleted.
After receiving legal advice, The University Times formally requested the return of the recording device, undamaged and unchanged. Tampering with the dictaphone would constitute criminal damage.
Arrowsmith, on Thursday night, phoned O’Mahony, and said he would seek legal advice before responding or returning the device.
In an email to The University Times on Friday, March 1st, Arrowsmith said he would “of course be happy to return the recording device I found on Wednesday in House 37 to its owner unaltered”.
He said that he wished “to avoid inadvertently handing it over to someone other than its original owner” and requested that The University Times confirm the make and model of the device. The paper was also asked, “to concur with my own discovery of the item, that you left a recording device in my dwelling on the evening of Wednesday 27th January between 8 and 9 pm, and that said device was set to record the audio from my residence”.
One of the newspaper’s reporters, the owner of the dictaphone, subsequently told Arrowsmith in an email that his continued possession of the device constituted theft, and that a complaint to the Junior Dean would be lodged unless it was returned immediately.
A complaint to the Junior Dean, who had previously been informed of The University Times’s investigation by one of the reporters involved, has since been lodged.
In late January, The University Times revealed a culture of hazing in Dublin University Boat Club, with members subjected to an annual ceremony after Christmas Commons in the Dining Hall. The investigation revealed that, in the last decade, novices have often faced a night of excessive drinking, commands to strip to their underwear, and whipping with bamboo sticks. The story was picked up by every major national media outlet.