This Tuesday, MUN sent out a short “statement” through NEWSLINE standing by their decision to impose a ban on Matt Barter following the recent incident involving a silent sign holding protest during President Vianne Timmons’ media appearance.
The statement maintains MUN’s no-comment policy on “individual cases”, by essentially rejecting the opportunity to clarify their current ban as seen when inquired by the CBC. To make matters worse for Barter, as explained in a discussion with SaltWire, MUN has refused to communicate with Barter about the upcoming hearing regarding his ban. The fourth year student and former MUNSU Director of Advocacy appears to be facing silence from his censors.
“I emailed asking if I can have input on who the investigator will be, but have not heard back from MUN…” said Barter to SaltWire.
Interestingly, in the statement, MUN notes that several employees have been emailed about media covering “a student who believes they have been banned from campus for protesting.” The framing of the issue suggests that Barter “believes” he is banned for protesting (insinuating that the ban is for other non-specified justifications)- however it is hard not to come to this conclusion when the ban is significantly vague and comes less than 48 hours after his protest. Furthermore, the school seems to stress that this ban is an “interim measure” without clearly identifying how long it will stay in place. Additionally, the source of the complaint is likely to remain officially obscured.
It seems Barter has found himself in a situation that could’ve been ripped straight out of Franz Kafka’s “The Trial”– wherein the protagonist has been charged over an ill-defined infraction and cannot receive any information about his hearing or offence. What little information has been shared about the hearing is that MUN is in the process of finding an “external, independent investigator”.
With the Christmas Break looming, stalling and holiday roadblocks will likely prevent an immediate bureaucratic resolution to this dispute. Furthermore, if Barter is found to be well within his academic rights (as the public verdict seems to think), this will still not compensate Barter for his spent tuition during a semester where he was banned from using campus resources, nor the time and energy spent campaigning for his justified activism. The added stress of engaging in a widely publicized resolution with the university may also impact academic performance.
In the meanwhile, Matt Barter has started a change.org petition in his own defence, which can be found here.