Critic has been unable to find any evidence of an alleged duck-biting initiation.
Following the ODT’s story on October 6, we got in touch with a bunch of recently-initiated first-years, and a few hosting second-years. None had witnessed anything involving a live duck, but all were eager to tell us other explicit details.
Most students pointed at a single Castle Street flat as the likely culprit. We know the flat had called for a live duck to be brought by their initiates, but nobody could provide us with any evidence of what happened to it.
We were finally put in touch with a neighbour, who told us that the whole point of the duck on that list was that it wouldn’t be brought. Failure to bring a required item would therefore give the hosts a reason to punish the first-years. When they ended up actually bringing a live duck, the neighbour claimed it was let go. The hosts declined to comment. And that’s as close as we got.
In the meantime, four other students reached out with rumours of their own duck-biting story, teasing details they heard from friends-of-friends and the like. None could provide any actual proof that a duck’s leg was bitten off. The number of suspected flats had grown to three, and the count of concrete evidence remained at zero.
It is entirely possible that the duck initiation did happen, and that there is a photo to prove it. But if that’s true, we haven’t seen it. In the three weeks since the story broke, not a single student has come forward to tell us they were there, or that they saw a video of what happened there.
So we reached out to the ODT to see what they had. Their story comes from the mother of a boy whose friend group was allegedly forced to bite the legs off a live duck. Her story lasts a few sentences at the top of the article. Then, the news piece abruptly switches to what seems to be a different tale told by a different student who had recently been through a different initiation. His story takes up the majority of the piece and there are no further references to the ducks.
We emailed the paper with a few questions. After hearing that they apparently had photographic evidence, we asked if they had reverse-image-searched it at any point. This is done to ensure that photographic evidence is genuine. If it’s been pulled from online as a hoax, a reverse search will show you the original posting of the photo. If it’s genuine, Google will not recognise it. So we asked if this had been done and also asked, in general, what proof they had of this story.
In reply, we were told that they “have an obligation to [our] sources to not share the material they've provided to [us]. Sorry I can't be more help to you.” That was all.
We clarified that we did not need to actually see the materials, we just wanted to know “if you can tell [us] what those materials are… Can you tell [us] that there is proof, you just can't share it?”
We never got a response.
If you can help us figure out what actually happened, email email@example.com. We'll keep your name a secret, but we'll want to see some evidence.