The Sally & Chuck Davis Club (NL) – Communist Party of Canada published a letter on December 6, 2021, regarding the freedom to protest at Memorial University of Newfoundland.
See the letter below:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Statement Concerning Freedom of Expression at Memorial University
December 6, 2021
We are gravely concerned to have learned this weekend that Matthew Barter, a fourth-year student at Memorial University, has been banned from St. John’s campus buildings outside of classes for allegedly engaging in harassing or intimidating actions towards university president Dr. Vianne Timmons.
We know that Matthew Barter has been actively engaged in important campaigns on campus in support of greater accessibility as well as opposition to funding cuts to the university. Barter has regularly commented about the poor state of repair in various parts of the university buildings and engaged in conversations and informal polling of members of the student body about the university’s priorities. Barter has also been a vocal opponent of the university’s plan to eliminate the tuition freeze even while maintaining the high salaries of certain positions including the president. In addition to publishing these positions on his website and social media, Barter has engaged in some protests on campus. These included putting posters up demanding Dr. Timmons’ resignation as well as holding up a sign at a December 2 speech by Dr. Timmons saying “Stop Vianne: No to tuition hikes and out of control spending!” The university had responded to the posters by hauling them down and claiming a violation of the respectful workplace policy. And now Barter’s silent protest action on December 2 has led to a ban on his physical presence on campus.
The Communist Party agrees with MUNFA that Barter’s actions constitute a legitimate protest and that they are not a personal attack on Dr. Timmons but rather directed at her public position as president of the university. We condemn this blatant censorship as well as the profoundly undemocratic leadership of the university as a whole. These actions clearly demonstrate that Dr. Timmons is unwilling to accept serious criticism or engage in honest discussion of uncomfortable realities for students at Memorial. We demand that the ban be rescinded immediately and that the university issue an apology to Barter and the entire university community.
The Communist Party is unequivocally opposed to tuition increases and we believe the university and different levels of government should be working to eliminate tuition fees altogether. The university’s act of censorship is a statement that they are committed to neoliberal austerity, shifting the financial burden ever more on the backs of the working class.
See image format of letter 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.