Welcome back, Memorial University students!
You will have a great time in university, make lots of friends, and grow as a person.
You may also get banned from campus if you protest a little too much, undergo a bureaucratic nightmare if you speak out, and have to defend yourself in a court of law against the university at your own expense.
As a Political Science student, MUN was kind enough to give me a hands on experience!
I had the pleasure of seeing how the powerful can try to crush those who speak out, how people in positions of authority react when criticized, and all sorts of ways to undermine dissent.
Many of you know me as the protestor or the guy with the blog. My name is Matt Barter. I have now written over 200 articles, exposing administrative bloat at MUN and advocating for students. I will continue my work this semester and, if you see me around campus, be sure to come say hi! Unlike President Vianne Timmons, I am very approachable.
To provide background for those of who are less familiar with my case: last December, MUN 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 through the Student Code of Conduct. In my opinion, the whole process was conducted unfairly, having become politicized and entirely run in secret. The process went fundamentally against the concept of due process.
MUN hand-picked an investigator without any input from me. I do not believe this investigator conducted a fair examination of what happened. However, what is even more shocking is that the investigator herself suggested that I be sanctioned in ways that are way less severe than what MUN eventually decided to do. 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.
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.
It is up to the new and returning students at MUN to enact change and challenge the powerful.
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.