The election for Memorial University’s Board of Regents Alumni representatives is in its final stretch. On August 20th, 2023, I did a follow-up interview with candidate Courtney Jones. We discussed the election process and her campaigning up to this point, along with her thoughts on the Indigenization of Memorial, mental health, sexual assault policies, accessibility, the decision to remove the Ode to Newfoundland from convocation, a mandatory U-Pass program, the idea of free education, and the president’s compensation.

How did you find the election process and campaigning up to this point?

The election process so far has been quite smooth and enjoyable. The nomination process was easy, and campaigns have been a fair and cordial exchange of ideas. Overall, I would say it has been a pleasurable experience.

What are your thoughts on the Indigenization of Memorial?

Given the history of colonialism in Canada, I think the Indigenization of Memorial University is an important idea and one that should be given serious consideration, thought, and priority. However, as a non-Indigenous individual, I think it would be important to defer to Indigenous students and staff at Memorial to ensure that the Indigenization of campus if it is something they wish to see, is done in accordance with how they feel it ought to be done. I do think, though, that Indigenizing the curriculum is something that could start immediately, and not just in the social sciences and humanities, but in other faculties like science, engineering, medicine, business, etc.

What are your thoughts on the state of mental health resources on campus?

We’ve recently seen in the news that Memorial University is at risk of losing its Student Wellness and Counselling Centre. This would be a terrible loss for the University, not just for academic programming for clinical psychology students, but for the ability to provide mental health and well-being services to students. Being a student can be incredibly stressful and contribute to mental health difficulties, and having resources that are available and accessible on campus is absolutely key.

What do you think of Memorial’s sexual harassment and assault policies and resources?

I find this question particularly difficult to answer. There was a time when I experienced an incident of sexual harassment on campus at Memorial University, and it was dealt with very quickly and appropriately, and I did not have to see the perpetrator on campus again. However, I recognize that this may not be everyone’s experience in dealing with experiences of sexual harassment or assault on campus. I think it’s important to continually monitor the application of the University’s policies regarding this topic and make improvements where they might be needed.

In your opinion, is Memorial an accessible campus and are there sufficient resources and supports for persons with disabilities?

I think, in some ways, the University is accessible – lecturers using technologies to make classes accessible for students, etc. However, I know that there is always room for improvement, and when something goes wrong with accessibility infrastructure on campus (for example, an elevator breaking down), this can have a very significant impact on members of the Memorial community who have disabilities. This is why regularly updating and maintaining campus infrastructure is so important. No one should be prevented from achieving an education or working because of a disability.

Do you agree with the administration’s decision to remove the Ode to Newfoundland from convocation ceremonies?

I don’t particularly have a personal opinion on this. I understand why some folks were upset about its removal, but I also understand why others might feel that the inclusion of the Ode to Newfoundland may not be entirely inclusive to all those in the Memorial community. I think when it comes to a decision such as this, the entire university community should be consulted.

Would you support a mandatory U-Pass fee for all students?

I would support a U-Pass if there were an opt-out option available for those who did not live on a bus route. However, before a U-Pass is implemented, I think the Metrobus service would need to expand its service offerings, both in terms of how often stops are made and the geographic regions that it serves. Encouraging public transport is a good thing given our climate crisis, but we cannot force students to pay for a service that they practically are unable to use.

K-12 is free, and an undergraduate degree is now equivalent to what a high school degree used to be, as research by several sources states that over 70 percent of jobs now require some form of post-secondary education. What are your thoughts on the idea of free education?

I love the idea of free education. No one should be prevented from attaining their education goals or pursuing education simply because they cannot afford it. I hope one day we will get to a place where anyone and everyone who wishes to pursue post-secondary education can do so without worrying about the financial impacts.

Memorial recently hired a President Pro Tempore with a salary of $434,000. Do you agree with the president being paid this amount? What should the compensation be for Memorial’s next president?

This compensation does appear to be on the higher end. Based on a quick search, it seems that the only university president in Atlantic Canada compensated more than this is the president of Dalhousie.

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.


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