Photo Credit: Markus Spiske (via Unsplash)
The MUN student union has released a statement demanding that the Student Code of Conduct be revised immediately to remove obstructions to students’ rights to protest. I found no such obstructions, leading me to conclude that the Student Code of Conduct is flexible, or at least intentionally vague. If you search for the Code on MUN’s website, you reach a page with the headline “Decode the Code.” No further evidence is needed to prove that MUN knows that the Student Code of Conduct is convoluted. The title itself implies that the Code is ambiguous and encrypted.
The first line of the Student Code of Conduct states that “Memorial University is a learning, teaching, and working community of students, faculty, and staff, committed to providing a safe environment which is respectful to the rights…of all its members.” Recent evidence suggests that the right to protest tuition raises and to criticize the University’s president are not upheld by the Code. Reading further, one may wonder if Timmons is the “complainant” in the Matt Barter case – the one who suggested that he has violated the Code. Under “Offences,” we see the following:
Matt Barter does not appear to have committed an act of discrimination that violates the Human Rights Act of 2010.
Next, we have a section that reads:
“Students and members of the University community enjoy the freedom to pursue their intellectual and personal interests without interference. The objectives of the University are the pursuit of learning through scholarship, teaching and research within a spirit of free enquiry and expression. The University recognizes academic freedom and the right to free speech, creative expression, and peaceful protest, acknowledging that the common good of society depends upon the search for knowledge and its free expression.“Memorial University’s Student Code of Conduct
This entire paragraph seems to contradict what MUN stands for today – that is the persecution and the silencing of opposing beliefs. The authors of our Student Code say that peaceful demonstrations and silent or symbolic protests are not disruptions. The words “silent” and “protest” (which are described by dictionary.com to require an elementary school level of comprehension) are defined below. Both seem to encompass the extent of Matt Barter’s demonstrations.
The Code itself is vague and leaves an opportunity for ambiguity, which is not ideal. Should a new revision be made as per the request of MUNSU, unclear portions of the Code should be made more legible for students. After all, how can we live by a Student Code of Conduct that we don’t fully understand?