On October 20th, 2021, Memorial University of Newfoundland tweeted to respond to the release of the costs of President Vianne Timmons’s office renovations: “A recently released ATIPP request focused on the costs associated with refurbishing the president’s office. This project had a budget of $57,980 (time and materials). It included work in six office spaces.”
Then they followed up with another tweet: “Electrical upgrades, replacing some fixtures that dated back to the 1960s, replacing flooring and aligning with COVID-19 requirements. A key component of the project was creating an area for shared administrative services which will reduce costs long term.”
MUN received a lot of backlash for their tweets.
Dean Bavington said, “It is not that the Prez office is being refurbished, it is what is NOT happening ALL OVER campus where much refurbishment is DESPERATELY needed but has been DEFERRED. We lack safe TEACHING/LEARNING infrastructure, spaces that do not make people sick. Contradictions mounting…”
Vladimir asked, “So the Computer Science department is still going to be shoved into the engineering building, hey?” They then stated, “All that refurbishing, and you can’t properly allocate space to your departments. But those office spaces and the president’s office need to be refurbished.”
Doug Long stated, “We hear much about the crumbling infrastructure at MUN and rising costs for students, yet the president spends $58,000.00 on her office refurbishing. Just one more Newfie joke – but this is NOT funny!”
Twitter user @hayleyfrcanada stated, “$60k to make the president’s office look pretty while these are the conditions that your students who pay to live on campus have to deal with?” referring to a video where a student is walking through water to go to class.
Twitter user @GreatAuk709 stated, “@MemorialU you folks just don’t get it. Expect leaders like your president to make better decisions. The University infrastructure is crumbling, but your focus is on the PRESIDENTAIL suite. Don’t defend the indefensible. Expect better.”
Student Rachel Hawco asked, “how is this institution this out of touch? MUN justifies a tuition hike by saying there’s a lack of finances but can find room for a $60K office update while other buildings are half falling apart. It’s just when are they gonna decide to put STUDENTS first?”
Student Jessica Marie said that “the older buildings [are] leaking and literally falling down. During a zoom lesson last year, a chunk of ceiling tile fell behind our prof.”
Rebecca Howie said, “meanwhile, in the munnels” and shared a picture of a sign in the MUNnel system titled “ASBESTOS CONTAINING.
Jay said, “you gotta be kidding me. This school is a joke, it’s like at this point they’re purposefully wasting the money. I guarantee there is not a single student that will benefit from this, but Timmons is gonna get a new office where she can continue to waste more money.”
Vladimir weighed in again and stated, “That’s nice. So, when is the Math Building not gonna be a death trap? When are the elevators going to work properly? Too broke from that new building hey? How about you fix the areas the STUDENTS use!”
Twitter user @jnp709 said, “Sure I got 60s fixtures in my place, and they are right deadly.” They then posted a picture of a light fixture in her house and said, “Look at this gem! Ain’t it a beaut?”
Justin stated, “The university must spend a ridiculous amount of money on condescending PR. A large portion of this was on furniture, including ‘art’ and an area rug that were nearly $2K between them. Meanwhile, buckets to catch leaks in the tunnels.”
Twitter user @GreatAuk709 commented again, “the MUN president is out of touch with reality. The largess is infuriating. Time for a change. This cannot continue. She is an embarrassment to the institution.”
Twitter user @MudderLori said, “Daughter (current MUN student) said today ‘She’s not a very good president, but she’ll be the most memorable. But not for the reasons she wants’. Yup.”
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.