To those who steadfastly supported me during the tumultuous aftermath of the targeted measures imposed by the Timmons administration at Memorial University, I offer my deepest gratitude. Following the administration’s decision to slam a campus ban on me, after my peaceful dissent expressed during a press conference against since removed President Vianne Timmons on December 2, 2021, I was met with an outpouring of community support.
Numerous individuals have reached out to express their gratitude for my contributions through online articles, TV appearances, and radio broadcasts. This overwhelming backing starkly contrasts the administration’s baseless depiction of me as a threat, mandating my reporting to Campus Enforcement before attending classes.
The recent scathing report by the Auditor General on Memorial University echoes the concerns I’ve vehemently voiced regarding the university’s exorbitant administrative expenses. Journalist Anthony Germain minced no words, categorizing the findings as “incompetence” and “corruption.”
The administration’s imposition of “interim measures” in 2021, banning my presence on campus, was nothing short of punitive. Chief Risk Officer Gregory McDougall, the complainant in the Student Code of Conduct case, hastily implemented these measures immediately after my protest, creating an undeniable conflict of interest. Despite the administration’s claims that these measures were not punitive, they were widely perceived as a form of suspension, significantly damaging my reputation.
The behaviour of the Student Code of Conduct Officer, Jennifer Browne, reeked of bias. Her predisposition to find me in violation of the code was glaringly evident. This punitive reaction stemmed from their inability to handle criticism, prompting my recent demand for the termination of Browne and McDougall.
Even the investigator appointed by the administration acknowledged that the campus ban was unjustified. The actions taken by the administration were wholly inappropriate and unfair, failing to adhere to the expected standards of respect for every individual within the university community.
Although the investigator aligned with the administration’s perspective, the recommended sanction was merely a directive to ‘refrain from personal attacks.’ Despite this, Conduct Officer Browne opted for a one-year probation, deviating from the investigator’s suggestion.
The measures imposed by the Timmons administration not only targeted me personally but also struck at the fundamental principles of journalism and a free press. It was a deliberate attempt to obstruct investigative work exposing their financial mismanagement, representing an egregious abuse of power.
I remain resolute in my advocacy for fairness, transparency, and the principles of freedom of expression and a free press. The administration’s actions will not shake my commitment to upholding these values.
My struggle also reflects a broader issue concerning the protection of freedom of the press and the consequences faced by those who seek accountability. The challenges I encountered serve as a poignant example of the difficulties journalists and advocates encounter when trying to hold powerful entities accountable.
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.