Law students came to the UNBSU asking for support after claiming they’d been pressured by the Law Students’ Society (LSS), law faculty and the university administration to not speak to the media about recent issues in their faculty.
A motion tabled by UNBSU law representative Josh Toombs requesting that “the Student Union supports students who wish to make their concerns known to the wider public, and the media” was passed unanimously at council on Sunday.
Toombs also requested that the UNBSU “advocates for the importance of student involvement in the resolution of these and other matters affecting the quality of education delivered at UNB.”
This arose after the LSS made clear in a closed meeting on Thursday that it was “inappropriate” for students to talk to the media.
“The LSS as well as the admin, although they don’t have an official policy, have advised students not to talk to media and I believe that most of the students at the law school are under a lot of pressure to not talk about these issues outside of the law school,” said Edward Choi, UNB law student and student senator.
“I think the reasoning behind that is that the admin and the LSS believe that if we talk to the media about these issues, it would ruin the reputation of the law school and UNB,” he said.
Choi also confirmed that the LSS has sent out two emails requesting that students not speak publically about internal matters.
According to law student and student senator Lyle Skinner, students are afraid of the repercussions should they speak publically about issues within the UNB law school.
“I’ve seen instances where it’s been almost in a way of a witch hunt to trying to go after students because they simply want to provide their comments on how to help resolve this problem,” Skinner said.
Although no one cited a specific example of harassment, when UNBSU president Greg Bailey asked law student David “Banner” Abichahine for any specific or personal examples of harassment against students, he replied that he’d “like to discuss that in private later on.”
The LSS is a ratified faculty group under the UNBSU, but they are not subject to adhere to whatever the council decides.
“The fact that the administration and … some of the faculty are telling students not to talk about it, I think that’s completely unacceptable,” said UNBSU president Greg Bailey.
“I think it’s our job to make sure that students aren’t being harassed for asking questions.”
Lee English, president of the LSS, opted out of commenting on the motion until he could speak to fellow members.