On December 6th, 2021, the Canadian Federation of Students Newfoundland and Labrador published a letter regarding students’ right to protest.
See the letter below:
Statement on Students’ Rights to Demonstrate
The Canadian Federation of Students Newfoundland and Labrador stands firmly behind the rights of all students, faculty, and staff at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador to engage in protest. Given recent events, CFS-NL would like to emphasize the vital importance of students’ right to engage in peaceful assemblies, protests, and demonstrations. As per the Universities Student Code of Conduct:
“Students and members of the University community enjoy the freedom to pursue their intellectual and personal interests without interference. The objectives of the University are the pursuit of learning through scholarship, teaching, and research within a spirit of free inquiry and expression. The University recognizes academic freedom and the right to free speech, creative expression, and peaceful protest, acknowledging that the common good of society depends upon the search for knowledge and its free expression.
The following are not considered “disruption” in accordance with this section:
Peaceful assemblies, demonstrations, picketing, or other activity outside a class or meeting that does not substantially interfere with the communication inside, or impede access to the meeting or class.
Silent or symbolic protest.”
Dr. Timmons has repeatedly stated her belief that it is a student’s right and responsibility to protest. Although we would like to emphasize that students should be able to focus their time and energy on accessing their education rather than defending their right to it, recent actions taken by Dr. Timmons and the administration at MUNL have directly contradicted these statements.
Students have been repeatedly met with unnecessary and unwarranted restrictions to their ability to engage in peaceful protest and dialogue with the University. At a recent demonstration at Grenfell Campus, students were prevented from hanging posters by the University Administration. They were also faced with unwarranted surveillance by the University’s Campus Enforcement and Patrol.
Students are currently facing unprecedented threats to accessible and affordable education in Newfoundland and Labrador. Young people and families across this province and country are terrified for their futures as their ability to access even a marginally affordable Post-Secondary Education is being ripped away. Low-income students and folks from marginalized backgrounds are watching as their opportunity to attend university disappears. Students, families, faculty, staff, and members of our community are devastated, and the right of these folks to express that fear and peacefully protest the exclusionary and predatory actions of MUNL must be protected.
See image format of the 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.