Regurgitating the Harrington Hall mess

Alyssa Mosher - From the Editor (Tom Bateman/AQ)

We thought it was just a rumour. Really? Alcohol banned in Harrington Hall, the party house of St. Thomas University?

Someone heard it from someone else who told us Larry Batt said the ban would start at midnight that night. We had to find out if this was true because, after all, you don’t report on hearsay, right?

Our news editor Karissa Donkin emailed Batt and sure enough, it was all true.

It was the second last issue for the semester and I – as well as most of the other staff members of The Aquinian – was exhausted. Couldn’t the paper lay itself out?

But suddenly my job became that much easier. This was big, front-page material; spot news, a developing story – extra exciting for a weekly student newspaper. And, as long as we worked quickly, we were going to be the first ones to report it.

We were thrilled.

***

The beauty of the web became a reality that Sunday. The paper wouldn’t be out until Tuesday, but we sure as hell would get the story out there.

Karissa wrote a brief article for our website, which I cross posted to Twitter and Facebook. The response on Facebook was incredible. Most people couldn’t believe the headline: “Alcohol ban in Harrington Hall”? What? Now?

And then the comments flooded in.

They started on Facebook but spread to the updated online story. Most people just agreed or disagreed with the ban. But then they began discussing and disagreeing with each other.

We ignored our policy at the AQ about not posting anonymous comments – a practice we like to follow to ensure credibility and accountability. We didn’t want to stop this conversation (unless, of course, someone posted a personal attack against one of the other commenters or the reporter).

But the dialogue didn’t quite flourish. We have 87 comments to date and many of them are Raiders defending their residence. “Harrington isn’t all bad,” they say. “It’s actually a great place to live.”

Talk about denial, eh?

***

We all know Harrington is full of great people. Many of us here at The Aquinian experienced this firsthand.

But that doesn’t mean there’s no connection between Harrington’s party reputation and the vandalism, violence and reckless behaviour reported in recent years. I’m the first person to believe in a healthy partying habit. It’s not that I endorse binge drinking, but I do encourage “letting loose” and forgetting about the week from hell – especially around this time of year.

But let’s admit it: Harrington has a problem.

Yes, it may not be the only St. Thomas residence with an excessive partying problem, but that’s not the point.

Number one, The Aquinian hasn’t heard about a pattern of reckless vandalism in Chatham Hall or Rigby Hall, the residences usually called out by Harrington defenders. And second, hasn’t the threat of an alcohol ban been looming since the death of a student last year and the university’s new code of conduct this year?

I’m not saying I agree with the ban or that it will make a difference, but something needs to change, no?

In “Changing the culture of Harrington Hall,” house president Cailtin Doiron says residents are moving past the initial shock of the ban and are trying to use it for positive change.

That’s sounds great. Prove it.

***

Some may look at today’s paper and say, “Harrington overload.” And they’re right. I questioned it myself before writing this column. But each article has its own purpose and perspective.

The front page story looks at the culture of Harrington and the possibility of it changing; managing editor Laura Brown’s story “The complications of enforcing an alcohol ban” talks about the legality of the ban; this week’s “Word on the Street” and the comic showcase student voices; and then there’s this column. I say, suck it up – or make a difference.

Nobody wants drinking to be banned from Harrington forever, but no one should have to worry about vandalism, violence and shit in a residence that boasts house pride.

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  • Show Comments (2)

  • jake

    The student who died last year did not die at Harrington, he died at the apartment building due to falling down stairs. Harrington residents are defending it because it actually is a great place to live. Just because a few isolated incidents that no one I have spoken too even knew occurred doesn't mean we have a problem. From all the defamatory remarks and articles about Harrington in the Aquinian it is hard to believe that anyone working for the paper was ever/is a raider. Or at least not a true Raider.

  • The Dude

    *“Harrington isn’t all bad,” they say. “It’s actually a great place to live.”

    Your response:
    "Talk about denial, eh?"

    *House president Cailtin Doiron says residents are moving past the initial shock of the ban and are trying to use it for positive change.

    Your response:
    "That’s sounds great. Prove it."

    This is probably the rudest, most insulting column ever. What do Raiders have to prove? I don't live in Harrington any more, but a lot of my friends still do and I visit HH all the time and hang out with Raiders. Harrington only has a problem because people read the sensationalism in gossip rags like this. Without Harrington you guys wouldn't have a paper. You guys don't want them to change. It's getting to the point where a Raider can't take a shower without there being a front-page story on it. Lay off.

    You wouldn't believe some of the b.s. I've been hearing around campus. If anyone has actually been to Harrington this year they'll realize that it's a great place despite what the media (AQ, CTV, etc) have to say.

    Rigby and Chatham are also great places too, but there's a media blackout when it comes to the fact that there are several students on Alcohol Probation because their drinking is/was out of control. Where was the AQ last year when a student fell out of a Rigby window (drunk) and landed on a car below? No one likes it when people point the finger at them.

    When Forrest Hill students get upset because people make these comments, well, now they know exactly how Raiders feel.

    Imagine being a Raider and waking up every Tuesday to read on pages 1, 2, 3 and 10 of the student paper about how they're all alcoholics who shit all over the house.

    P.S. Where's the follow-up story on the Chatham Hall resident who is taking two months off drinking? Ask him how last Saturday night was.

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