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(April 11, 2002, Gazette)

Views on the name change

Dear Editor,
I would like to take this opportunity to voice my objection to shortening the name of our university to Memorial University. I would like to retain the name Memorial University of Newfoundland. My reasons for objecting to the change are many.

This name is in memory of those who served in the First and Second World Wars when Newfoundland was not a province of Canada. This should be set in stone. It was an honourable reason for the name and should stand the test of time. Changing the name now would deprive our past, present and future students of the sense of history and connection to it that is a very important part of their university experience.

Few people now know where Newfoundland is or what our university is called. We may compound the problem by deleting Newfoundland from our university’s name. Graduates of Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN), who are situated all over the world, have helped put Newfoundland on the map.

I expect that the acronym will now be MU and not MUN. This will happen despite efforts to resist it. The acronym could not remain MUN simply because it is universal that U, not UN, is the abbreviation for university. Will MUNFA now become MUFA and will MUNSU become MUSU?

The MU acronym (pronounced “mew” or “moo”) lends itself to a comic effect, whether intended or not. This, associated with the name of our university being in Newfoundland, will add to the existing barrage of jokes that come our way.

Do we now have to consider changing the Ode to Newfoundland or The Fighting Newfoundlander? Changing the name of the province, which seems to have been done with minimal public consultation, should not automatically mean that now everything with Newfoundland in its name has to be changed to Newfoundland and Labrador.

We must remember that when Newfoundlanders fought in the World Wars, Labrador was included as part of Newfoundland and that’s what makes it part of our history and makes us proud to be Newfoundlanders. Labrador should and always will have its own identity. Although it may seem unlikely today, there is always the possibility of having a campus in Labrador or, in the future, a University of Labrador. But once we change the name of MUN we are not likely to reverse it.

We should also consider the costs that will be incurred by change - promotional material, signs, letterheads, Web sites, and the list goes on and on.

I am very passionate about this cause, being a born, bred and proud Newfoundlander. I take pride in the fact that I graduated from MUN. I also take pride in the fact that we were once a dominion with our own flag and anthem. To achieve my goal of keeping our name I have started a petition against the name change, and I am trying to circulate it as widely as possible.

I currently have over 900 names plus almost 20 e-mails and the list is growing rapidly. If necessary, I intend to take this petition to Roger Grimes personally. I would also encourage you to write our premier directly. If anyone would like to add their name to the petition, they may call me at 777-6747 or send their own letter to me by e-mail juneh@mun.ca or by regular mail c/o Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NF, A1B 3V6.

Dr. June Harris
Associate professor of anatomy