MUN Chief Risk Officer sparks outrage

Twitter.

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.

Greg McDougall Tried to Sound Tough with MUNSU. His Body Language Conveyed a Different Message

Greg McDougall.

On December 2nd, 2022, several students protested funding cuts and tuition hikes by presenting Memorial University President Vianne Timmons with a pink slip. After the peaceful protest, Chief Risk Officer Greg McDougall confronted members of the MUN Students’ Union who were involved in the protest. McDougall seemed to be trying to portray himself very sternly to the protestors. He failed.

McDougall did not look comfortable in the video. In fact, I think he looked insecure. His body language in front of the students may have shown how he really felt. My analysis is that, in addition to crossing his arms, he even crossed his legs at one instance. Also there were points where McDougall seem to be biting his lips, holding his hands and walking away from the conversation at the same time. 

I have researched what those mannerisms usually mean and here is what I found that, in my opinion, may be applicable to the situation:

Regarding holding his own hands, on changingminds.org under hand body language, it states, “hands may also hold the self, such as when people hold their own hands, typically for comfort. Wringing the hands indicates more extreme nervousness. Holding the self can also be an act of restraint.” 

Tutorialspoint.com states that “The standing leg cross is a body gesture of defiance, defensiveness and submission.”

According to psychmechanics.com, during a conversation cross-legged body language “can indicate a withdrawn attitude.” And people tend to talk in shorter sentences and reject more proposals.

In my opinion, his communication wasn’t the only instance that day in which McDougall tried to appear one way but come off another. McDougall seems to have wanted to dress up for the event, and I commend him for the effort. However, I would say he also failed in that task. My criticism of his fashion choices would be that he was wearing a jacket and pants that are clearly not the same set. And I don’t think dark shirts look good when worn with a suit. Yet, if I was going with a dark shirt color, I would definitely not pick a tie that is a lighter color than the shirt. And I wouldn’t wear a tie that is broader than the lapel of my jacket. However, I think the worst fashion faux pas was wearing brown shoes with a dark outfit. And I especially disliked that the shoes appear to be square toed and not have any laces.

I think Greg would be more confident and look great in a good suit and with an openness towards a wide range of protest methods. Come over to the light side of the force, Greg!

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.

MUN Administration Has a History of Bringing Students to Submission

Jennie Massey.

When I served on the MUN Students’ Union Executive, I had encounters with administrators in which they tried to align students with their views. 

The below is a quote from the meeting minutes of the student union Executive Committee:

“Concerns were raised about having regular meetings with Director of Student Life Jennie Massey and Ancillary Operations Director. It was noted that Jennie Massey in particular had attempted on numerous occasions to convince the executive to align themselves with her personal goals and that she made inappropriate proposals in meetings. It was suggested that the executive should not meet with her on a regular basis as the meetings were not productive and seemed to only forge overly close relationships with administrators with whom the union should retain more distant, arms-length relationships since their goals and interests did not often align with those of the students’ union.”

The passage above shows an example of a time when Massey tried to align students with the views of the administration. Massey’s Mentee Ladan Mowlid, disclosed information about my disability to the media.

I filed a complaint against Ladan, and she was found to be in violation of MUN’s own Student Code of Conduct. I believe the disclosure was in an attempt to smear me.

MUN’s treatment of me as a MUNSU board member, journalist, and writer has been that of a smear campaign.

Massey has since moved to Western University, where she works as Associate Vice-President (Student Experience). In this position, she banned students from holding on-campus leadership positions in November 2020 including on the student council, due to mistakenly not following her stringent, rapidly changing COVID rules. The student council at Western stated that the administration misinterpreted the Student Code of Conduct and overstepped their authority.

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.

MUN Vice-President (External Relations)’s Inbox: Ode to Newfoundland

ATIPP.

A recently obtained ATIPP request reveals all emails sent/received by Memorial University Vice-President (Advancement and External Relations) Lisa Browne regarding Ode to Newfoundland from October 1st to 25th, 2022. See ATIPP files below:

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.

MUN President’s Inbox: Ode to Newfoundland

A recently obtained ATIPP request reveals all emails sent/received by Memorial University president Vianne Timmons regarding Ode to Newfoundland from October 1st to 25th, 2022. See ATIPP file below:

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.

MUN President commits “cultural vandalism”

MUN President Vianne Timmons.

A person concerned about Memorial University’s removal of the Ode to Newfoundland at Convocation ceremonies wrote the following email, obtained through ATIPP, to President Vianne Timmons on October 21, 2022:

…proud of the University and its base in and commitment to this place… Yet today I find myself embarrassed by and embarrassed for an institution that seems to lack any depth of understanding of where it came from and what it stands for.

The decision to eliminate the Ode to Newfoundland from convocation ceremonies at Memorial University (emphasis on Memorial) is held out as a move to inclusion when in fact it is incredibly divisive. It shows and appalling ignorance of, indifferent to or (hopefully not) an active hostility to, the constitutional, social and cultural history of Newfoundland and Labrador. Composed in 1902 and adopted as the national anthem in 1904, the Ode has been sung over the freshly dug graves of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians from all communities, across Northern Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Italy, the very people Memorial was created to honour. It was sung in the 1920’s at the opening of the moving Royal Newfoundland Regiment memorials across Europe and more recently at Gallipoli in Turkey. It’s been sung throughout Newfoundland and Labrador in school assemblies and concerts, music festivals and official events such as the opening of The Rooms. If you want inclusion, I suggest you find a recording of the grand finale of Festival 500 when it was sung by a choir of hundreds of individuals and groups from around the world joined by the capacity audience. We all know at least the first and last verses and some of us even know the second and third verses.

President Timmons’s response:

Thank you so much for emailing me with your concern. We are always changing convocation protocols to make it as students centered as possible. We have students from many places, with many beliefs and views. Our new Strategic Plan calls on us to be inclusive and student centered.

We want every student to feel that Convocation is their convocation. This is important for us to do as a university. I know that you and others may not agree with our decisions, and I welcome your views.

I hope you will still see Memorial University as your university, one that listens and focuses on all students.

Response to Timmons:

Hi Vianne,

Thank you for your response but it is clear that you really don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, my concerns and those of many others who you will undoubtedly hear from in the coming days. I have had several contacts from… in the past 24 hours and the response is universally negative to this change in policy.

Of course, convocation is and should be student centered but I fail to see how the singing of out former national anthem and current provincial anthem in any way takes away from that admirable aim. What you have done is to effectively move toward being “The Anonymous University of Nowhere in Particular.” Is that really what you want? To take away all the distinctive features of Memorial and its history? Do you really think that Newfoundland and Labrador’s culture and Memorial’s significant part in it, is something to repress and dismiss in the belief that non-Newfoundland and Labrador students have no interest in it? Do you really think international students are those from other provinces are offended by the pride that the people of this province have in their culture and their university?

I’m sorry, but Memorial is becoming… more and more like the numerous bland and faceless state colleges in places like the U.S.

As you call tell I am not taking this lightly and I will continue to oppose this heavy-handed cultural vandalism.

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.

2022 Human Rights Award Nomination

I am excited to announce that I have been nominated for the 2022 Human Rights Award from the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission for my efforts to make a meaningful contribution in advancing and furthering human rights in the province. 

I was nominated for my advocacy for student protesting and activism in the area of affordable, accessible education. The letter I received, the Public Relations Specialist of the Human Rights Commission expresses her appreciation for the work I do every day. The message in the letter highlights how it has been shared with them that I have put myself at risk academically, emotionally, and financially to fight for student rights and for the rights of other students at Memorial University. 

A final decision on the winner of the 2022 Human Rights Award will be coming soon. I look forward to attending the ceremony at Government House in December.

Current salaries of management positions in the Registrar’s Office

A recently obtained ATIPP request reveals the current salaries, including band and step, of management positions in the Registrar’s Office. See file below:

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.

All Out Nov 2 Student Protest

On November 2nd, 2022, the Canadian Federation of Students held a rally at the Memorial University clock tower and then a march to Confederation Building in support of accessible post-secondary education. See pictures below:

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.