Students protested funding cuts and tuition hikes by presenting Memorial University President Vianne Timmons with a pink slip on December 2nd, 2022. A video shows that after the peaceful protest Chief Risk Officer Greg McDougall confronted members of the MUN Students’ Union who were involved in the protest. Many have taken to social media to express outrage over McDougall’s conduct.
Political Science Professor Russell Alan Williams states “This is really disheartening. Student participation and dialogue about things like huge tuition hikes does not have to be positive. If you think students are too critical, you don’t just replace them.”
MUN Students’ Union Resource Katherine McLaughlin says, “I’m so disgusted at @MemorialU – ‘professionalism’ and ‘positive dialogue’ are weapons used to silence criticism and dialogue. Admin has shown over and over that you either need to support their capitalist pursuits or be silenced, reprimanded and removed. SHAME.”
Student Bruce March states that “The right to peaceful protest and demonstration is of critical importance in a healthy democracy. @MemorialU has shown their blatant disregard for this right in trying to shut down and silence dissent. Its one thing to disagree, it’s another to crack down on opposition.”
Historian Lori Lee Oates states, “If he thinks NL students are going to be quiet and ask for things politely offline, he doesn’t know about the history of student activism in NL.”
Salt Pages NL states, “Change does not happen without direct action – the efforts of MUNSU come from a long tradition of student protest and have been made necessary by the administration’s refusal to listen.”
Nick Gushue says, “It is absolutely key that the University Admin is focusing on civility politics as a way to shift the debate from accessible education to being polite. The Union must be allowed to voice the concerns of the student body through protests like this.”
User @clnewf states, “This is absolutely DISGUSTING!!! This is the type of administration we have at @MemorialU one that puts down students and their union for PEACEFULLY protesting and speaking on behalf of students about the accessibility and cost of tuition!! Be ashamed of yourself @vianne_timmons.”
The Canadian Federation of Students Newfoundland and Labrador states, “MUNSU has shown that in the face of skyrocketing tuition, their voices will not be silenced. Despite the Administration’s best efforts, they will continue to protest and advocate for #accessible and #affordable education for all. The students united will never be defeated!”
Rhea Rollmann says, “Always nice to see finely-shod chaps earning $178,000 a year in publicly-funded salaries tell students to find “positive” ways to talk about the cost of education.”
Alicia Poole states, “LOL so only students who agree with the university administration’s plans to continue to decimate post-secondary education accessibility in the province are able to participate in these conversations? What sort of institution is this becoming? Certainly not one which respects base-level democratic participation or the opinion of students, whom the university is designed to serve (in theory, ofc). As an alumni and current PhD student at @mcgillu, given the cuts to education and student support, this response to student protest, and lack of negotiation with @MUNFaculty, I am embarrassed and losing hope that there will be jobs at @MemorialU to return to that support good research and (which requires) a diverse student body who feel that post-secondary education is within their reach without taking on significant debt. I hope that administration, including @gmmcdoug and @vianne_timmons are able to take the space to see how damaging and harmful their actions are to the future of the province.”
User @GreatAuk709 states, “I am an alumnus @MemorialU and view this action by your risk officer as completely reprehensible. He and others involved in threatening and demeaning these student representatives should be held accountable and forced to resign. Shame on @memorial.”
Travis Perry says, “And without ignoring the very serious issues of admin interference in governance, it should be pointed out that the Chief Risk Officer is one of the only people not wearing a mask in this video. Governance is not the responsibility of the CRO but managing the University’s response to the ongoing COVID pandemic is. Pretty easy to see where @MemorialU admin stands on the health risks for members of our community, particularly those who are most vulnerable.”
Paul Foote says, “As a @MemorialUAlumni I find this quite disturbing. Protest and demonstrations have been a fundamental element to constructive exchange and discourse throughout academic institutions forever. It’s clear that our institution has lost its values for thoughtful expression of ideas.”
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.