On December 7th, 2022, VOCM Open Line host Paddy Daly spoke with Matt Barter.
Paddy Daly: Line number 1, Matt you’re on the air.
Matt Barter: Hi Paddy.
PD: Hi Matt.
MB: Yes, I’m phoning in to respond to the comments made by MUN President Vianne Timmons last week. Did you want to fill listeners in on what she said?
PD: About the protests?
MB: Yeah, and about me.
PD: Yeah well, I mean I asked very specific questions. I used your name directly in conversation with Dr. Timmons. What she said, I guess I’d just be paraphrasing because I can’t remember verbatim what she did say but basically it’s about there’s a time and a place and the decorum that’s required for protesters. She’s talking about she feels like there’s been a lack of respect and again maybe I’m missing some of it but I remember the conversation obviously. But that’s sort of the summary about what she said, is that how you heard it, Matt?
MB: Yes, but I also heard her say that she said that there’s a difference between protest and harassment.
PD: Right, yes.
MB: But I don’t agree that my protest that I did was a form of harassment and actually last week I was at Government House because I was nominated for the Human Rights Award and Lieutenant Governor Judy Foote said that everybody has the right to protest, and she said that includes me.
PD: Okay, right.
MB: So, I really don’t agree with her on that. Also, she said that there was an independent report done which there was, but MUN got to handpick the investigator.
PD: Have you seen the report?
MB: Yes, I have. Have you?
PD: No, I haven’t.
MB: Oh no, I posted it on my website so anybody can go on and have a look at it.
PD: What does it say? Give us the Cole’s notes.
MB: So, the investigator the sanctions that they recommended was 1) That I reframe from personal attacks and the second sanction is that I not be allowed to protest inside an event but the university administration they didn’t go with the sanction recommended by the investigator instead they gave me one year probation.
PD: One year until you are allowed, I’ll use that word, until you’re going to be able to protest at events or on campus, period?
MB: No, one-year non-academic probation.
PD: Oh, okay.
MB: So, they went with a sanction that is like ten times more severe than the investigator recommended.
PD: It’s certainly and like I said to her many people consider the way that the university has handled protests, whether it be poster campaigns or members of MUNSU who went to I think it was the report to the community event last week and were asked to leave, they weren’t forced to leave is now my understanding but I guess Dr. Timmons was pretty displeased with it all I’ll use that word. So, give the folks just a quick understanding of exactly what the protest that you held, what was involved?
MB: So basically Dr. Timmons was giving a public address so I got up and stood to the side holding up a poster and on the poster I said ‘Stop Vianne: no to tuition hikes and out of control spending.’ So, my protest it was different from the MUNSU students last week because I didn’t block Dr. Timmons from the audience I just stood off to the side.
PD: Okay well I think you know university settings have long been the home of protest and discourse. I mean if you look back, I think it was sometime in the 70s there was a massive sit in of hundreds of students inside the administration building.
MB: It was actually thousands of students.
PD: Okay, thousands of students at the administration building and those days are coming again, you can feel it.
MB: Yes, and did you see the video of the Chief Risk Officer confronting the students?
PD: I did.
MB: He told them that he was going to remove them from university committees, in my view that is highly inappropriate behaviour.
PD: It certainly without question heavy handed.
MB: It is yes, absolutely. But I really like what the students did, and I think the students who did it are brave not knowing what the repercussions would be and last week you had John Harris on and he said there’s a culture of authoritarianism from the administration office and I agree with him.
PD: I’m sure you do, it’s in lockstep with your own thoughts on it and the blog postings and the like that you send along to me which I appreciate. Anything else you want to say this morning Matt before we say goodbye?
MB: Yes, I’d like to send a message to Dr Timmons. Dr. Timmons: you are a phony, and you should not govern this institution.
PD: Thank you, Matt.
MB: Thank you.