British Columbia

BCIT student association manager denies censorship after students suspended from magazine

Two BCIT journalism students say they did the right thing in sharing an email calling an alleged campus voyeur a "non-news story," even if it led to them being suspended.

'I did not attempt to censor ... or spin this very serious matter' says Dan Post about voyeur incident

BCIT student Jessica Fedigan claims she was suspended from her position at the campus magazine for forwarding a message sent from the student association. (CBC)

Dan Post denies he was trying to censor student reporters when he wrote an email encouraging staff at the Link Magazine to downplay an incident of alleged voyeurism on campus. 

"At no point did I ask my staff to not report on the BCIT voyeur incident," Post, who is the publications manager for BCIT's student association, told CBC News.

"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 this world desperately needs more of. I standby that message."

Voyeur not reported to students

BCIT has been criticized for not telling students about a man who was arrested and charged in November for secretly recording men in a campus bathroom.

When news of the voyeur arrest broke last week Post sent an email calling it a "non-news story," and encouraging ​those planning to report on it for BCIT Magazine or campus radio to "take this opportunity to promote all the positive BCIT student stories coming out of this campus."

"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," said the email. 

Student journalists disciplined

Two BCIT broadcast journalist students — Jessica Fedigan and Lindsey Howe — have been suspended from writing for Link Magazine for forwarding the email.

Fedigan says she forwarded it to the radio station run by the broadcast program, where it was reported

Soon afterward, both she and Howe were notified they'd been suspended from their jobs with the student association-run magazine.

"They told me, ultimately, if I had not forwarded the email, a story would probably not have been written," said Fedigan. "I don't really agree with that ... I was not the only person with the email."

"The campus community had a right to know what kind of emails [Post is] sending us and trying to get us to spin stories and I think that's really inappropriate," said Howe.

"I feel pretty disappointed in the system," she added. "I feel like we did what was right ethically as journalists."

No intent to downplay

On Feb. 6, BCIT Student Association president Dylan Smith said the email to magazine staff was misrepresented and taken out of context.

In a statement, Smith said the email was intended to provide direction on how to answer inquiries about the alleged voyeurism.

He said there was no intent to downplay the events, but rather to encourage student editors to educate others about available services on campus. 

In an earlier open letter to students on Friday, Smith clarified the relationship between his organization and BCIT. 

"The student association is an entirely separate entity from BCIT," he wrote. 

He said the student association was not informed about the voyeurism that had allegedly taken place on campus until the news was picked up by media this week.

With files from Brenna Rose and Kamil Karamali


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