The good-natured rivalry between UCD and Trinity’s students is a long-standing tradition, and is likely to continue into the future, as it is second to no other pair of Irish universities. We laugh, we joke, we insult – and for the most part, it doesn’t pose a problem as each university takes quips in their stride. But how far is too far and how low a blow are we willing to inflict?
A recent article in the University Times regarding the rivalry between the two institutions appeared to be, for the most part, written in good nature and proved to be highly enjoyable reading. However, a jab at a former UCD sabbatical officer is the questionable line that proved to be the unnecessary addition to an otherwise entertaining piece.
What for some may be considered a minor, innocuous joke, is in fact an attack on a person’s physical appearance. A blow like this is as cheap and common as can be found and in fact demonstrates the lowest form of humour, or lack thereof.
To single out one person who is no longer in the public eye and making as underhanded a comment as was made is a tasteless gesture for which an apology should be issued. Indeed, one would have assumed that such a personal attack would not have appeared in as reputable a publication as The University Times in the first place. However, as it was published both in print and on the newspaper’s website it became readily available to those outside of Trinity College. This drew the article in question to UCD Students’ Union President Pat de Brún’s attention, and led him to lodge a formal complaint to Trinity College Students’ Union.
This complaint did not seem to be taken with the serious consideration that it merited as the University Times Editor Ronan Costello dismissed it as one made on behalf of a friend as opposed to the attitude of UCDSU, which, as confirmed by de Brún, it was.
The mockery of UCD’s facilities, location and accomplishments is one aspect of the article, and one that was handled in an undeniably humorous manner. However, to pick out one student from the university and poke fun at them is just unreasonable. It is nothing short of bullying. The whole scenario seems very out of character with the fantastic student publication that has hitherto been produced.
Each respective institution’s successes and failures will ultimately be drawn upon when sourcing material for a piece such as ‘You Should Have Gone to UCD’ and it is these accomplishments and these failures which should have been not only the crux of the argument made, but the sole focus. As is clear when reading the piece, the basic argument of the article regarding the rivalry between the two institutions was more than sufficiently covered without needing to throw in a jibe about one particular, current UCD student.
It is not only via student publications that the competition between the two universities is expressed. Colours matches that take place every year over a variety of sporting disciplines including rugby and hockey see teams from both Trinity and UCD furiously competing with nothing at stake but their own, and their university’s, pride. Since when did the physical appearance of an individual student represent the quality of a university and why did a comparison of, for example, these sporting abilities not suffice?
Given all the attempts to raise awareness among students that physical appearance should not matter and should not undermine your self-confidence, why would a newspaper of such a highly regarded university contradict some of the ideals that the university is trying to teach its students?
As it stands, it would appear that the perceived rivalry between UCD and Trinity is nothing but a desperate effort to instill a pseudo-patriotic loyalty into incoming first year students. As motivating as this may be for some people and as good a punchline as it makes, it is still necessary to remember where the line should be drawn.