My Open Letter to the Memorial University Policy Office
Recently, the Memorial University Policy Office sent an email to students asking students to give feedback on the proposed Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities. That is the name MUN has given to what I see as a much more authoritarian version of the Student Code of Conduct that is set to govern every MUN student starting very soon.
I have written a sternly worded letter to the Policy Office. I am sharing that letter with you below so you can forward it to the Policy Office (firstname.lastname@example.org) by November 2nd and easily oppose these proposed changes. If the last Code was bad, this one is even worse, but we still have a chance to stop it.
Please share this letter with as many people as possible, and make sure to ask your respective unions to stand against this disastrous code that MUN is seeking to impose upon all of us.
It’s up to you to copy the letter below and make sure as many people as possible get it and forward it to MUN.
Here is the letter:
Dear Policy Office,
I am writing to express my grave concerns with the proposed Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities. Unfortunately, the new Code carries forward many problematic parts of the Student Code of Conduct, such as the administration having all the power in deciding on punishments for students and the investigator unilaterally chosen by MUN.
However, one new egregiously wrong stipulation is getting added to the code that stands above others and it is reason I am writing to you today. I find the “Confidentiality and Privacy” section (p. 11) is essentially a gag order on students. It reads, “All persons involved in any process related to this Code are required to maintain confidentiality.” This section is especially dangerous given the university’s history using the Student Code of Conduct in ways I would deem abusive and oppressive, such as the widely reported case against Matt Barter just in the past few months.
Furthermore, the proposed Code states, “A breach of confidentiality by persons involved in any process related to this Policy may be subject to discipline or other appropriate action.”
I would argue that it is mandating what is essentially a perpetual gag order on students. It would guarantee that MUN could run the entire Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities process against someone in complete secret. The person would be accused, judged, and punished without anyone even knowing. It is worth noting that even after the entire process was over, the accused would never be able to mention what happened.
The intense secrecy demanded by MUN is, in my opinion, reminiscent of oppressive regimes we have seen historically and still in authoritarian parts of the world today. I believe it creates a Star Chamber reminiscent of the reign of the tyrant King Charles I. History teaches us that an open process is the best way to guarantee the rights of the accused and make sure the accuser does not overstep their bounds. A secret process is a repudiation of basic civil and individual rights.
Armed with these new powers, a small group of self-righteous administrators could decide a student’s future in secret. For example, in a potential situation where the process is not conducted fairly, a student could be punished or expelled for doing nothing wrong and no one would know about it. It is dangerous to give anyone this kind of power for the very real possibility it may be abused in the future.
I am sure this advice will help guide your decision in rejecting these terrible changes proposed to the Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities.