FYI.

This story is over 5 years old.

News

BC Student Journalists Put On Leave After Trying to Report on Voyeurism Incident

The BCIT Student Association temporarily barred two student journalists from work after they leaked an email that asked writers to downplay a crime on campus.

Two students have been put on leave for trying to bring a voyeurism incident to light. Photo via BCIT

Two journalism students at the BC Institute of Technology (BCIT) were suspended from work after forwarding an email from the student union asking students to downplay an incident of voyeurism on campus.

In November last year, an incident at the Burnaby school was reported to the school alleging that a young man was filming students in bathrooms. According to one of the journalists, the incident was serious to enough to warrant an RCMP investigation that eventually led to charges last year. However, the information was kept internal until an email was sent out last week by the BCIT Students Association.

Advertisement

Chieh-Sen Yang was charged last November with secretly recording students in the men's bathroom. He has since been released on bail and has been told by authorities to stay away from the BCIT campus and that he cannot possess any device capable of recording audio or visuals.

According to the email, BCITSA publications manager Dan Post described the incident as a "non-news story" and asked members of the student association and writers from LINK Magazine to promote positive stories instead.

"Show [the public] all the GREAT students that we spotlight in our magazine and on our website, and brag about the positive things happening in our pages," the email reads, addressing members of BCITSA and affiliates.

"If they're looking for a juicy student story from BCIT for their homepages, point them towards our Student Spotlights, or our thoughtful and amazing contributors. It's a good way to turn a negative (kind of non-news story) into a positive thing while we have the attention of the world-at-large, even if just for a moment."

Jessica Fedigan and Lindsay Howe, both of whom work for the journalism school's radio station Evolution 107.9, were suspended from their positions at LINK Magazine after the journalism school reported on the email and reached out to the BCITSA for comment.

Fedigan told VICE that in a private meeting between her and the BCITSA, she was told that would be suspended until their investigation was complete. Fedigan notes that Howe has not had a similar meeting yet.

Advertisement

"Our teachers have been supportive," Fedigan said. "They told us we stood by our journalistic guidelines. I think the issue really is that the Student Association thinks [the email was confidential], but our position is that [Post] was not contacting us for anything magazine related and that he was instead contacting us about our school work and what we do as journalists."

Dylan Smith, president of BCITSA, told VICE that the two journalists were not terminated but placed on leave, and that the issue stems from a leak of internal communications. When asked if the BCITSA tried to influence the reporting of journalists on campus, Smith forwarded VICE to a statement put out by Post that argues the email was "taken out of context."

"At no point did I ask my staff not to report on the BCIT voyeur incident. I did not attempt to censor my writers. I did not attempt to encourage them to downplay or spin this very serious matter. I did however encourage them to promote positivity whenever possible, something I believe the world desperately needs more of."

The school has also been criticized for not letting students know about the alleged crime on campus in a timely manner.

Follow Jake Kivanc on Twitter.