University of Western Ontario journalism students heard interning at Q was “off limits” over concerns about host Jian Ghomeshi’s “inappropriate” behaviour.
CHRIS YOUNG / THE CANADIAN PRESS file photo
A journalism professor at the University of Western Ontario says students were cautioned against interning at Q due to concerns about former host Jian Ghomeshi’s behaviour after he allegedly “preyed on a young grad who wanted to work (at Q).”
.Jeremy Copeland, a journalism lecturer at Western, said the concerns stemmed from a 2012 incident in which Ghomeshi allegedly “prey(ed) on a young grad who wanted to work (at Q).” Because of this, he recently stopped a female student from pursuing an internship at Q.
Students were told two years ago that internships at Q were “off limits” due to concerns about inappropriate behaviour by Ghomeshi, a former Western student told the Star.
The journalism program did stop sending interns to Q after one intern (a male student) was placed at the show in 2008, said Thomas Carmichael, dean of the faculty of information and media studies at the University of Western Ontario. But he said the reason was to do with the nature of the internship.
“We insist that our interns do entry-level journalism work, and the report on that internship indicated that the student was asked to run everyday errands not connected to journalism,” he said in an email. “Consequently, we decided not to pursue further placements at Q.”
Carmichael did not respond to followup questions about whether concerns about Ghomeshi’s inappropriate behaviour toward female students played a role in stopping internships at Q.
The student involved in the alleged 2012 incident, a recent graduate who shared her story with Copeland and other professors at Western, agreed to speak with the Star on condition of anonymity because she is concerned about a possible negative impact on her career.
She alleges that after she attended a taping of Q at the downtown Toronto studio in Dec. 2012, Ghomeshi inappropriately touched and texted her.
She had asked Q’s executive producer for an invite to a taping, she said. She said she hoped to land a job with CBC.
Seeing a new face in the control room, Ghomeshi invited her into the studio after the show, she said.
Alone in the room, the two chatted about Q and guests Ghomeshi had interviewed. The conversation was friendly and she assumed they were networking — despite a comment about how good she looked, she said.
“I was under the impression . . . he thinks I’m smart, he thinks I’d be a good fit for working at Q,” she said.
When conversation wrapped up, she alleges Ghomeshi said, “Aren’t you going to give me a hug?”
“He gave me a bear hug and he lifted me up,” she said, adding the situation was “weird” but she thought perhaps he was just friendly. She had heard rumours he was flirty, she said.
But when she turned to leave a second time, she alleges Ghomeshi came up behind her, placing his hands on her waist and pressing his body against her backside.
“As I’m walking towards the door, he was behind me, kind of hugging me from behind and walking with me,” she said. “That’s when I thought, whoa, this is kind of a bit much.”
She said she does not know if anyone else witnessed the incident.
As they walked, with Ghomeshi still holding her, he mentioned she should laugh at his jokes, she said.
She left and returned to work, still shaken and unable to focus.
One hour later, she received a text from Ghomeshi asking her to meet up for a “non-work related drink,” she said. He added a winky face — 😉 — to the message, she said.
“I didn’t want to date him, but then I thought this would maybe be a good opportunity to speak to him about the industry,” she said, responding by text and telling him a “friendly meet up” would be OK.
“If you could help me get a job that would be cool, too,” she added.
Ghomeshi texted back saying he wasn’t interested in a personal friendship and didn’t want to be used as “conduit to a job,” she said. The text messages stopped shortly after, she said.
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