When rumour becomes story

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

When I was a resident in Harrington Hall, every Friday night I’d pour myself a rum and coke, a bowl of chips and wail away on my electric guitar.

Believe it or not, my wing rep deemed me “most likely to form a garage band in her dorm room,” cranking the lead riffs to songs like “Let Me Roll It” and “Interstate Love Song.”

It wasn’t always easy to shut myself away in a residence where everyone else was getting ready for the sticky, messy night ahead that would lead to a massive hangover-ready breakfast at the omelette station in the caf.

Classes end early on Fridays and Harrington took full advantage of that; doors were propped open, music blared and homework never got done.

Buckets, anyone?

***

Like most close-knit communities, rumours spread quickly in Harrington.

Who fell asleep while having sex with whom? He did what in the shower on the first floor? What substances can I find on the couches in the third-floor lounge?

And rumours especially spread when things get bad, like after Harrington’s first party a couple weeks ago. There was a fight and the news hit campus fast. The details? You tell me. It was an isolated event between two people; it was a cat fight between two girls; it was an eight-on-eight brawl; there was blood all over the second-floor lounge.

That’s exactly where The Aquinian comes in.

As journalists – and especially as journalists of a student newspaper – it’s our job to bring rumours to rest for our readers.

We knew people would be interested in the Harrington fight story. We needed eyewitnesses to give us the details, something much harder to find than you’d think.

A story like “Fight ends Harrington party,” which appeared on the front page of last week’s edition of The Aquinian, is bound to place Harrington in a bad light. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get anyone to confirm what happened.

But just because people wouldn’t talk doesn’t mean we didn’t have a story.

***

That front-pager ended up having a phenomenal response, though mostly negative.

Some people thought the article purposely slandered Harrington Hall. Others called it incomplete because we didn’t actually say what happened that night.

And they’re right. We didn’t have the eyewitnesses and fights make Harrington look bad. But the truth is, a story like this gets people to pick up our paper. Yes, we want that. But we also want to air out what’s a real issue, something that needs to be discussed by more than a few people behind closed doors.

The article was not intended to single out Harrington Hall. If it had happened in any residence, we would have pursued the story.

But no one can deny that Harrington is the on-campus party house. And while we commend efforts to revamp the residence’s reputation as students explained in their letters to the editor (see Page 10), that doesn’t mean we can ignore what happens when it’s newsworthy.

So we asked ourselves: Why did this fight happen at a residence at St. Thomas?

We ask questions, promote discussion and let readers pass judgment – for better or worse.

After all, discussion has to start somewhere.

***

I spent two years in Harrington Hall. Same room, same roommate.

Actually, there are a few of us here at The Aquinian that spent at least two years in Harrington. And there’s a reason for that.

Those Friday nights I spent in Harrington Hall allowed me to air out my individuality more than any other time in my life. Not only was I myself, but I was encouraged to be just that. It was great.

And it continues to be great and I owe a lot of it to that residence, the place I called home for my first years at university.

Was Harrington loud? Yes. Dirty? A little. Bear a “bad reputation?” Kind of.

But what can I say, once a Raider, always a Raider.

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  • ass monger

    Fuck you aquinian you mother fuckers

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