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Two British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) broadcast journalism students have been suspended from their positions on the school’s magazine after sharing an email asking them to take a positive approach to the voyeurism story that broke on campus Wednesday, February 3rd.
Jessica Fedigan and Lindsey Howe, both second-year students in BCIT’s Broadcast and Online Journalism program also held paid positions for the schools on-campus Magazine, The Link. The publication is operated by the BCIT Student Association.
After news broke of the voyeurism controversy on the BCIT campus, Fedigan said she received an email from the student association's publication manager, asking her to downplay the incident when reporting on it for the journalism program’s in-house radio station, Evolution, and online news outlet.
“He basically said, if you are covering this for Evolution, try to brag about all the positive stories we have on campus, and if they are looking for a juicy story, shine them on the student spotlight,” Fedigan explained.
“At the end he said, let's turn a “non-news” story into a positive while we have the world watching BCIT.”
After feeling like they were being directed on how to report on a story, Fedigan and Howe shared the email with their instructors. With their instructors support, another student in the broadcast journalism program put together a story for the school’s news website, which is separate from The Link. The contents of the email were shared in the story.
Fedigan was then called into a meeting with the publication manager and a Human Resources representative from the student association.
Following her meeting, Fedigan received another email from the publication manager saying, “pending the results of our investigation, your participation on the editorial board is not required.”
“We believe that ethically, he was asking us to do something that was not ok,” Fedigan said.
In an open letter to the students sent Friday from BCIT Student Association President, Dylan Smith, he clarified that the ‘Student Association is an entirely separate entity from BCIT.”
Fedigan believes her publishing manager crossed a boundary by asking the students to cover the story in a certain way for the journalism program’s news site, which is separate from the Student Assocation.
Fedigan and Howe said they are back in classes Tuesday, and don’t know what will happen moving forward. When asked if she wishes to continue at The Link, Fedigan said it is hard for her to say.
“I don’t think I will really know until the dust settles.”
This incident comes on the heels of an individual had being arrested for peeping on students in the bathroom of the Burnaby campus. A letter was sent home with BCIT students on February 2nd, confirming Burnaby RCMP had arrested a 23 year old man in relation to voyeurism in late 2015.
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