MUN President’s Inbox: Ode to Newfoundland part 2

A recently obtained ATIPP request reveals all emails sent/received by Memorial University president Vianne Timmons regarding Ode to Newfoundland from October 26th, 2022 to November 24. See ATIPP files below:

Matt Barter is a fourth-year student in the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty at Memorial University of Newfoundland, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. He enjoys reading thought-provoking articles, walks in nature, and volunteering in the community.

Why the MUN Student Code of Conduct should be open

Recently, the top brass at Memorial University proposed a new Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities to replace the existing Student Code of Conduct. One of the most noticeable changes is a new section titled “Confidentiality and Privacy.” In my open letter to the Policy Office, I urged the university to desist from these terrible changes. I think it is very troubling that the university administration wants to run student discipline cases in complete secrecy and punish students who dare speak out. Openness in proceedings has been a hallmark of the common law justice system dating back hundreds of years. Experience teaches us this is the best approach. MUN seems to think they know better. 

Trials are conducted openly to ensure fairness and to give all concerns parties a chance to express themselves publicly and for the public to know what the authorities are doing. MUN is eschewing longstanding principles and are rejecting what we know works and is necessary when administering justice. They are also eschewing commonsense principles of due process and fairness. They are using old, tired arguments of “protecting victims and witnesses” to advance a dangerous new process. Moreover, they are relitigating something that has been commonsense for hundreds of years and going down a road that has always led to failure around the world. The debate of protecting victims/witnesses has been litigated ad nauseam and the answer has always been clearly on the side of openness.

The Government and several law firms have made arguments in favor of open proceedings. According to the Government of Canada, an open court “is a venerated ideal of justice in common law systems” and is regarded as indispensable. The principle requires that court proceedings be open to the public and the publicity to those proceedings not be inhibited. It continues, “No less than the legitimacy of criminal justices depends on it; the fairness of criminal process and public confidence in the system are at stake.” They argue that a free flow of information encourages debate among members of the public, promoting the accountability of institutions that exercise “coercive powers against individuals.”

The McConchie Law Corporation states that the “open court” principle “assumes that public confidence in the integrity of the court system and understanding of the administration of justice is fostered by openness and full publicity.” They list four objectives: 

(1) maintaining an effective evidentiary process; 

(2) ensuring a judiciary and juries that behave fairly and that are sensitive to the values espoused by society; 

(3) promoting a shared sense that our courts operate with integrate and dispense justice; and 

(4) providing an on-going opportunity for the community to learn how the justice system operates and how the law being applied daily in the courts affects them. Accordingly, personal embarrassment or financial prejudice to an accused or to a witness is generally not a valid basis for publication ban.

Sydney Criminal Lawyers states that many people are surprised to learn that anyone can walk into a courtroom and watch proceedings. People are even free to publish media reports and articles about the court proceedings naming the defendants, complainants and witnesses and the testimony given. They state that the reason courts are “open” to the public is to promote democratic ideals of transparency and accountability. They note that the idea has been recognized for centuries and quote 19th century English philosopher Jeremy Bentham: “In the darkness of secrecy, sinister interest and evil in every shape have full swing. Only in proportion as publicity has place can any of the checks applicable to judicial injustice operate. Where there is no publicity there is no justice. Publicity is the very soul of justice. It is the keenest spur to exertion and the surest of all guards against improbity. It keeps the judge himself while trying under trial.”

Furthermore, they state that open courts are “seen as an important safeguard against injustice and corruption which could otherwise fester in a secret, closed court system.” An open court doesn’t only subject judges to greater scrutiny. It is fosters transparency in the words and conduct of defendants, witnesses, lawyers, and prosecutors. Hence, Sydney Criminal Lawyers argues that open courts act as a deterrent against lying and abuses of power. 

It is still possible to stop the senior administrators at MUN from gaining sweeping new powers. Email your concerns to the Policy Office at policy@mun.ca.

Matt Barter is a fourth-year student in the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty at Memorial University of Newfoundland, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. He enjoys reading thought-provoking articles, walks in nature, and volunteering in the community.

MUN creates new position with over $140K salary

A recently obtained ATIPP request reveals that Memorial University has created a new administrative position with a salary of $140,393. The position is called Senior Advisor to the President, Government Relations and Strategic Initiatives and Patricia Beh has been appointed.

It is a five year contractual appointment with the start date of February 13, 2023. Beh will be entitled to a professional development allowance of $10,000 per year. See employment contract below:

Matt Barter is a fourth-year student in the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty at Memorial University of Newfoundland, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. He enjoys reading thought-provoking articles, walks in nature, and volunteering in the community.

MUNSU acted irrationally and aggressively, says Chief Risk Officer

A recently obtained ATIPP request reveals more of the Chief Risk Officer Greg McDougall’s thoughts regarding the MUN Students’ Union protest action on December 2nd, 2022. McDougall states, “I just really don’t understand the merits of this event, and the manner in which it was done.

Funding and support from donors, research dollars, and the Province largely comes from showing how great of a University we are and how important we are. We are top tier in research and have great programs especially in the STEM areas. This event was to showcase this, and allow people to ask questions. I am sure MUNFA, GSU and a lot of others wanted to ask tough questions… It also took away from celebrating the success of students and faculty, and in a way it achieved to silence their voices more than the Universities.

As I was trying to get MUNSU to leave the stage area, and convince them to ask some hard questions such as ‘what are you doing to keep tuition affordable?’, or the food bank, or housing supply. We challenged them to let the event continue and ask questions, I think most rational people would have thought that is representing students better. The sign was up, the point was made, good job… But then let the event continue. We tried to offer up every possible solution for a path forward.

At the end they even tried to wrap Dr. Timmons in that silly sign and they were aggressively following her with it. Honestly, I don’t know where we go from here. It just seems debate, dialogue and building consensus when there is disagreement is just a thing of the past.”

See full ATIPP below:

Matt Barter is a fourth-year student in the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty at Memorial University of Newfoundland, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. He enjoys reading thought-provoking articles, walks in nature, and volunteering in the community.

Student Code shouldn’t be confidential, says MUNSU

A recently obtained ATIPP request reveals feedback submitted by the MUN Students’ Union regarding the proposed Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities policy. Regarding the proposed confidentiality section, MUNSU states, “This addition is clearly trying to limit students’ ability to go to the public about their treatment by the University Administration, and threaten them with further punishment if they do. This clause effectively places a gag order on every student’s ability to publicly share their story on social media, traditional media, or in other public forms. If a student chooses to make their experience with the processes of the code public, they must not be punished. Therefore we would like to propose that the students involved in the process must be permitted their freedom of self expression, and not be forced into a non-disclosure agreement.” View MUNSU’s full submission below:

Matt Barter is a fourth-year student in the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty at Memorial University of Newfoundland, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. He enjoys reading thought-provoking articles, walks in nature, and volunteering in the community.

Respectful Learning Environment policy consultation submissions part 2

A recently obtained ATIPP reveals consultation submissions for the proposed Respectful Learning Environment policy from November 4th, 2022 to December 6th. Download file below:

Matt Barter is a fourth-year student in the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty at Memorial University of Newfoundland, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. He enjoys reading thought-provoking articles, walks in nature, and volunteering in the community.

MUN Student Code consultation submissions part 2

A recently obtained ATIPP reveals consultation submissions for the proposed Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities policy from November 4th, 2022 to December 6th. Download the file below:

Matt Barter is a fourth-year student in the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty at Memorial University of Newfoundland, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. He enjoys reading thought-provoking articles, walks in nature, and volunteering in the community.

MUN Vice-President (External Relations)’s Inbox: Ode to Newfoundland part 2

A recently obtained ATIPP request reveals all emails sent/received by Memorial University Vice-President (Advancement and External Relations) Lisa Browne regarding Ode to Newfoundland from October 26th to November 24th, 2022. See ATIPP file below:

Matt Barter is a fourth-year student in the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty at Memorial University of Newfoundland, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. He enjoys reading thought-provoking articles, walks in nature, and volunteering in the community.

VOCM Open Line with Paddy Daly featuring Matt Barter

On December 7th, 2022, VOCM Open Line host Paddy Daly spoke with Matt Barter.

Paddy Daly: Line number 1, Matt you’re on the air.

Matt Barter: Hi Paddy.

PD: Hi Matt.

MB: Yes, I’m phoning in to respond to the comments made by MUN President Vianne Timmons last week. Did you want to fill listeners in on what she said?

PD: About the protests?

MB: Yeah, and about me.

PD: Yeah well, I mean I asked very specific questions. I used your name directly in conversation with Dr. Timmons. What she said, I guess I’d just be paraphrasing because I can’t remember verbatim what she did say but basically it’s about there’s a time and a place and the decorum that’s required for protesters. She’s talking about she feels like there’s been a lack of respect and again maybe I’m missing some of it but I remember the conversation obviously. But that’s sort of the summary about what she said, is that how you heard it, Matt?

MB: Yes, but I also heard her say that she said that there’s a difference between protest and harassment.

PD: Right, yes.

MB: But I don’t agree that my protest that I did was a form of harassment and actually last week I was at Government House because I was nominated for the Human Rights Award and Lieutenant Governor Judy Foote said that everybody has the right to protest, and she said that includes me.

PD: Okay, right.

MB: So, I really don’t agree with her on that. Also, she said that there was an independent report done which there was, but MUN got to handpick the investigator.

PD: Have you seen the report?

MB: Yes, I have. Have you?

PD: No, I haven’t.

MB: Oh no, I posted it on my website so anybody can go on and have a look at it.

PD: What does it say? Give us the Cole’s notes.

MB: So, the investigator the sanctions that they recommended was 1) That I reframe from personal attacks and the second sanction is that I not be allowed to protest inside an event but the university administration they didn’t go with the sanction recommended by the investigator instead they gave me one year probation.

PD: One year until you are allowed, I’ll use that word, until you’re going to be able to protest at events or on campus, period?

MB: No, one-year non-academic probation.

PD: Oh, okay.

MB: So, they went with a sanction that is like ten times more severe than the investigator recommended.

PD: It’s certainly and like I said to her many people consider the way that the university has handled protests, whether it be poster campaigns or members of MUNSU who went to I think it was the report to the community event last week and were asked to leave, they weren’t forced to leave is now my understanding but I guess Dr. Timmons was pretty displeased with it all I’ll use that word. So, give the folks just a quick understanding of exactly what the protest that you held, what was involved?

MB: So basically Dr. Timmons was giving a public address so I got up and stood to the side holding up a poster and on the poster I said ‘Stop Vianne: no to tuition hikes and out of control spending.’ So, my protest it was different from the MUNSU students last week because I didn’t block Dr. Timmons from the audience I just stood off to the side.

PD: Okay well I think you know university settings have long been the home of protest and discourse. I mean if you look back, I think it was sometime in the 70s there was a massive sit in of hundreds of students inside the administration building.

MB: It was actually thousands of students.

PD: Okay, thousands of students at the administration building and those days are coming again, you can feel it.

MB: Yes, and did you see the video of the Chief Risk Officer confronting the students?

PD: I did.

MB: He told them that he was going to remove them from university committees, in my view that is highly inappropriate behaviour.

PD: It certainly without question heavy handed.

MB: It is yes, absolutely. But I really like what the students did, and I think the students who did it are brave not knowing what the repercussions would be and last week you had John Harris on and he said there’s a culture of authoritarianism from the administration office and I agree with him.

PD: I’m sure you do, it’s in lockstep with your own thoughts on it and the blog postings and the like that you send along to me which I appreciate. Anything else you want to say this morning Matt before we say goodbye?

MB: Yes, I’d like to send a message to Dr Timmons. Dr. Timmons: you are a phony, and you should not govern this institution.

PD: Thank you, Matt.

MB: Thank you.

2016: All Out Nov 2

On November 2nd, 2016 students went all out in support of accessible post-secondary education.

Matt Barter is a fourth-year student in the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty at Memorial University of Newfoundland, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. He enjoys reading thought-provoking articles, walks in nature, and volunteering in the community.