On December 13, 2021, the MUN Students’ Union published a statement on the rights of students to dissent.
See the letter below:
Statement on Student Rights’ to Dissent
Memorial University of Newfoundland Students’ Union (MUNSU) stands in solidarity with student activists who have been silenced and/or banned from university life as a result of allegedly breaching the Student Code of Conduct. We encourage all students, faculty, and staff to continue to speak out against tuition fee increases, the privatization of education, and any university decision that negatively impacts students and our families forcing us further into debt and making the dream of education unattainable.
MUNSU echoes the statement released by the Canadian Federation of Students-Newfoundland and Labrador (CFS-NL), “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.”
Earlier this year, despite explicit approval from the University to place banners in specific areas of campus protesting cuts to MUNL and advertising a rally, those banners were removed by University staff within hours of being put up. MUNSU will no longer be asking for approval from the University for any such action.
Reflecting on the attack on activism at Memorial University, we are making the following calls to action:
- For all senior administration, faculty, and staff to obtain training in order to become equipped with the skills needed to empathize and engage with students who are neurologically diverse such as Autism Awareness training. Other forms of training to better support, accommodate and work with those who identify as having a disability is also being suggested.
- For the cessation of the banning of student activists, including those banned under the Student Code of Conduct;
- An immediate review of the Student Code of Conduct with the purpose of removing any barriers to student activism;
- For the explicit protection of students calling a presidential resignation as a form of expression. This ought not to be considered a personal attack, it is not based on the person as an individual but the person in a position of power. MUNSU has previously called for the resignation of former president Dr. Kachanoski, and students were not faced with the same consequences;
- A public apology be made to any student that has been banned as a result of the Student Code of Conduct prohibiting activism.
Students, families, faculty, staff, and members of the university community have the right to peacefully protest and express their thoughts and concerns regarding university decisions without the fear of being banned and should feel free to do so. Peaceful protest without fear of reprisal, as has occurred here at Memorial, is critical to achieving a free and just society. Power must be challenged.
Due to the sensitive nature of this topic, we are encouraging all students who feel as if they have been subjected to cruel and/or unjust treatment as a result of the Student Code of Conduct to contact your Executive Director of Advocacy, John Mweemba at firstname.lastname@example.org. For all other inquiries, please feel free to get in touch with your Executive Director of External Affairs, Communications, and Research, Hilary Hennessey, at email@example.com.
MUN Students’ Union (MUNSU)
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.