SUPPORT MATT BARTER’S FIGHT AGAINST UNFAIR MUN. DONATE NOW!
Last December, Memorial University decided to implement the draconian measure of banning me from campus for my silent protest of the president’s tuition fee increase and out of control spending. I was banned from campus and subjected to a months-long bureaucratic nightmare. MUN had lawyers, communications specialists, and other administrative staff on their payroll to fight their case against me. I was forced to hire a lawyer at my own expense to have a sliver of a chance of fighting their accusations
In my opinion, the whole Student Code of Conduct process was conducted unfairly for some very fundamental reasons: the whole thing was run in secret. The process was basically done without a dispassionate arbiter assuring both parties were treated fairly and equally or an impartial jury to decide guilt. It goes fundamentally against the concept of due process. I did not have a chance to call witnesses to give testimony and there was no oversight over who was called to talk with the investigator, who was hired by MUN.
I do not believe the investigator conducted a fair examination of what happened, and I have written extensively on this subject. However, what is even more shocking is that, despite all the flaws I see in the process, the investigator herself suggested that I be sanctioned in ways that are way less severe than what MUN eventually decided to go with. And it gets worse: MUN considered my public comments defending myself as an aggravating factor.
That’s on top of the fact that the entire process, a three-month ordeal, was already a severe punishment in and of itself. Throughout this time, I was treated like a dangerous offender, having to report to CEP in advance of attending class, made to walk with a CEP escort while on campus for my classes, and threatened with legal action and removal from campus by the RNC as a trespasser if I dared set one foot on MUN property for any reason other than a few exceptions like going to class. MUN seems to be very keen on punishing me severely.
All my appeals have been exhausted. I never truly believed I would get a fair chance of winning the case internally at MUN, but I still believe in the courts of this province. Therefore, I have filed a lawsuit against MUN. Unfortunately, this lawsuit is expected to cost in excess of $10,000, which is way more than I can afford. So, this is why I am asking for your help.
And this case is not just about me!
Are you dissatisfied with how things are going at MUN? My situation is a microcosm of many of the troubling changes that have been happening in the past few years. Protests used to be broadly allowed, but I believe the era of censorship and erosion of the right to peaceful protest has begun. Freedom of expression is under serious threat at Memorial University.
Memorial is the only university in this province. Do you want your children going to a school where they could be banned for taking part in protest? Donating to my legal defense fund is an investment in the future of fundamental rights at Memorial University.
I have had support from students, faculty, and staff members at Memorial University, along with the people from the wider community, including the MUN Students’ Union, the MUN Faculty Association and news outlets.
If I lose this case, what are we teaching present and future MUN students? Are we teaching them that they should shut up and do as they are told?
Up until now, I had been hesitant to ask for money from others to fund my legal fees in my case. However, it is my only option as the costs of a judicial review are more than I can afford. I am not giving up because this case matters — whatever happens to me will set a precedent. But I can’t go into this next phase without your help. Whether I can properly continue my cause for due process and freedom depends on your financial generosity.
Donations are also accepted in the form of cheque and by e-Transfer.
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.