MUN students' union execs trade accusations of harassment, as member resigns
Executive director of campaigns steps down, alleging physical intimidation and racially offensive comments
A member of Memorial University's student union executive has resigned, citing harassment by a fellow member — who in turn says he's the one who has been targeted.
Ladan Mowlid, the union's director of campaigns, posted to Facebook on Thursday that she was resigning because of "ongoing harassment and physical intimidation" from the union's director of advocacy, Matthew Barter.
The harassment I have been experiencing included but was not limited to insults … yelling, shouting, physical intimidation, racially offensive remarks.- Ladan Mowlid
"The harassment I have been experiencing included but was not limited to insults via personal messaging and in meetings, yelling/shouting, physical intimidation, racially offensive remarks," wrote Mowlid, who declined a request from CBC for an interview, in her post.
Barter, however, in a statement sent to CBC, said he has been experiencing "harassment and ableism" for the past four months, and said Mowlid's post has "many inaccuracies and misrepresentations."
"While on the executive, Ladan has overtly broken many of the union's policies and slandered the union publicly," wrote Barter, who also declined to be interviewed. "She also yelled at me in meetings, spoke down to me and mocked my disabilities, a very frustrating individual to work with."
Union tried for months to resolve situation, says letter
Mowlid added in her post that she filed student code of conduct complaints in May, but said the process has taken months with "minimal resolution" so far.
In her Facebook post, Mowlid said other members of executives told her Barter's behaviour can be attributed to his disability.
"I understand that certain characteristics can be attributed to specific types of disabilities," she wrote. "However, these mitigating circumstances should not enable or allow one to oppress and harass another individual nor should it excuse them from being held accountable."
Barter wrote that he'd requested educational training for executive members to help them work with students of disabilities, which he'd hoped would help. He said it was unfortunate that Mowlid had violated the confidentiality they both agreed to when they chose to try to resolve things through MUN's code of conduct office.
"The union needs to prioritize training for all of its members, in BOTH anti-racism as well as anti-ableism," wrote Barter, who told CBC he'd prefer not to say what his disabilities are.
There is always more that can be done and we will prioritize education and training for our members.- MUN Students' Union statement
A statement about Mowlid's resignation released to the MUN Students' Union's website on Friday said the union has tried for months to "resolve a difficult situation" between her and another member of the board.
"This involved informal workplace accommodations, an extensive process of mediation, and eventually led to an effort by the university's code of conduct office to achieve an informal resolution that would enable individuals to work together in respectful manner," reads the statement, which adds that the process had not been completed.
"There is always more that can be done and we will prioritize education and training for our members, as well as building on the Challenge campaign to combat racism, ableism, transphobia, homophobia, and all forms of oppression."