U of O newspaper editor receives backlash after exposé on pub crawl
Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa
Published Wednesday, October 19, 2016 5:14PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 19, 2016 5:15PM EDT
There has been a shocking backlash after our story last night about a pub crawl organized by a student body at the University of Ottawa called the Vet’s Tour.
The university reporter who first wrote about the story is being vilified on social media.
Yasmine Mehdi knew her story about a naked pub crawl a couple of weeks ago would stir up a reaction but the reaction to her story is far more disturbing perhaps than the pub crawl itself.
There is a twisted irony in the fact that this young reporter, who focusesd on a possible rape culture on campus is now being threatened with rape herself. Yasmine Mehdi, the editor of La Rotonde newspaper at the University of Ottawa went undercover to find out details of a pub crawl October 7th, organized by the Science Students Association.
“There were people naked everywhere, people drinking, making out,” Yasmine Mehdi said in an interview with CTV Ottawa yesterday. Mehdi spoke about some of the challenges she witnessed, including eating pubic hair, eating a donut off another team member’s penis, piercing a clitoris and encouraging team members to have sex with the judges of the Vet’s Tour.
After our story aired last night, Mehdi started receiving hateful messages on her social media accounts:
"I will be laughing when your father murders you in an honor killing. You terrorist breeder,” one person wrote
Another wrote: "Don't spoil it for everyone else, you filthy f***ing sand******. I hope your imam rapes you."
Yasmine Mehdi didn't want to comment on these messages today, saying she didn't want it to overshadow what really matters to her, which is whether there will be an investigation into the Vet's Tour and whether there will be any sanctions.
But Ottawa Hollaback’s Julie Lalonde, who speaks about violence against woman and has been the target of on-line harassment herself, had plenty to say.
“I’m horrified at the sexist, racist, islamophobic nature of the harassment this woman is getting,” Lalonde said, “all because she dared to do her job on something that is very newsworthy.”
Kelly Gordon, who sat on the University of Ottawa’s Task Force on Respect and Equality added, “How racist these comments were, implying that because she's a woman of color she doesn't have the right to speak out. It is appalling and unacceptable.”
The Science Students' Association has cancelled future Vet's Tours. One student at the campus office today simply said, “We can say we haven’t made any of those comments,” but would not agree to an interview.
The English university newspaper, the Fulcrum, has been publishing anonymous letters from people who attended the pub crawl. The editor-in-chief, Savannah Awde, says the majority of those writing in are defending it.
"I had the right to a private sexual experience with multiple people,” one student wrote, “The journalists and editorial staff at La Rotonde took away that right.”
“In all of the letters that were in defence of the event,” Awde said, “it had to do a lot to do with the fact that people felt that the event was to help them explore their sexuality freely. I guess they felt the reaction was kind of shaming for the sexual acts they engaged in consensually.”
CTV Ottawa asked the University administration again for an interview today but no one from the university responded to our request. There is no word on whether an investigation will be launched, just a comment on its website that it condemns the actions of some of its students.