Difference between revisions of "Letter to Senators"

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Dear Senators,
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Dear Senator,
  
On Friday 16 April 2004, a motion will be put before the Senate to accept Mr. Seymour Schulich and the Nevada Capital Corporation Ltd's offer to rename the school of medicine. There are several procedural, ethical, legal and conflict-of-interest concerns that have been raised by many students, faculty, alumni and members of the community, some of which are highlighted:
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On Friday 16 April 2004, a motion will be put before the Senate to accept the establishment and naming of the Schulich School of Medicine as a condition of a donation by Mr. Seymour Schulich and the Nevada Capital Corporation Ltd. Since the 31 March 2004 announcement of the agreement and renaming of the medical school, there have been several procedural, ethical and conflict-of-interest** concerns raised by students, faculty, alumni and members of the community regarding various aspects of this donation and its conditions. Some of these concerns are highlighted below:
  
1. Proper and due process has been preempted.
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1. Proper and due process has been preempted by the contractual obligation of the medical school to seek approval for the renaming of the medical school, on which the donation is contingent, within 15 days of the first public disclosure of the donation.
  
There has been no informed student, faculty, alumni or community consent. No students, faculty, alumni or community members were involved in this decision, and the Faculty Council debate and vote happened within a day of the first public announcement -- hardly enough time to examine the details of the contract. The contract, as presented, attempts to paralyze the spirit of the Senate process with a clause which states that the deal (QUOTE) must be accepted within 15 days or else the deal is null and void. Further, the complete copy of the motion has only been available to the Senate and the public since 14 April, only two days before the motion is to be voted on, making it virtually impossible to have an informed debate on such a large and complex issue.
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The administration and fundraising staff of the school negotiatiated with Mr. Schulich for 18 months regarding the details of this deal. During these 18 months, students, alumni, faculty and community members had no opportunity to provide input or express concerns regarding any aspects of the donation or its conditions. Further, the Faculty Council debate and vote on the motion mentioned above took place within one day of the public announcement, giving faculty insufficient time for any meaningful examination and discussion of the donation or its conditions. Student involvement was also curtailed by a provision of the donor agreement which states that "Senate's approval would be sought no later than 15 days after the public announcement ... [and that] if the Senate were not to approve the establishment and naming of the Schulich School of Medicine at that time, the agreement would be null and void.”
  
Almost a hundred (97) people, including 72 current medical students and 6 Western alumni, have signed a petition expressing concern with the way in which the Senate process was being approached and asking for more time. Unfortunately, most signitories of the petition signed before it became public that the 15-day limit for decision is a contractual obligation. However, the contractually specified necessity creates makes the questions about the relevance of the Senate process more salient.
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Currently, the only forum for student input on an issue such as the renaming of the medical school is the Senate via student Senate representatives. The rapid pace of the process, from the Announcement on 31 March 2004 (when the sponsor was first identified) to the final Senate vote on 16 April 2004, does not allow sufficient time for students to gather and process information regarding this issue, and form informed opinions with which they can then contact their Senate representatives. This is a particular concern since any details of the conditions of the donation were only made available a week ago, and the final revision of the motion regarding the donation and its conditions was only made public on 14 April 2004, making it impossible to have an informed debate on this large and complex issue. The very short timeline preempts and paralyzes the spirit of the Senate vote, and places serious limits on the proper functioning of this democratic process.
  
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Almost a hundred (97) people, including 72 current medical students and 6 Western alumni, have signed a petition expressing concern with the timing of the Senate vote, and requesting more time for information-gathering and discussion. Unfortunately, this petition was circulated before the 15-day limit for the acceptance of the name change became public. This is a provision which, in effect, equates an understandable request by students for discussion and participation in the Senate process to rejecting the donation. This further underlines the concern for the relevance of the Senate process at this university.
  
 
2. The Schulich name is linked to unethical and environmentally destructive practices.
 
2. The Schulich name is linked to unethical and environmentally destructive practices.
  
Another chief concerns involves the fact that Mr. Schulich's name is strongly associated with Newmont, the company of which he is Chair and a controling shareholder. Newmont is the world's largest gold mining company and, according to OXFAM* (amongst many other evironmental watchdogs and groups) the most ecologically destructive gold mining company in the world. There are large public campaigns against all of the company's mining sites due to their deleterious effects on the local environment and the people of the region. In addition to extremely destructive environmental practices, the company is under investigation by the US Department of Justice for bribing government officials in the purchase of Yanacocha mine in Peru [Source*].
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Another major concern involves the fact that Mr. Schulich's name is strongly associated with Newmont, the company of which he is Chair and a controlling shareholder. Newmont is the world's largest gold mining company and, according to OxFam and many other environmental surveillance groups**, the most ecologically destructive gold mining company in the world. There are large public campaigns against all of the company's mining sites due to their deleterious effects on the local environment and the people of the region**. In addition to extremely destructive environmental practices, the company is under investigation by the US Department of Justice for bribing government officials in the purchase of Yanacocha mine in Peru**. Medical students, faculty, alumni and the community are gravely concerned that the linking of the medical school with a name that is associated with such business practices is not in agreement with the high ethical and moral standards set forth by society for the practice of medicine.
  
For more information, please visit http://knowledge.2y.net/issues.php
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*For more information regarding the concerns surrounding the sponsorship and the renaming of the medical school, please visit http://knowledge.2y.net/issues.php
  
For the sources cited in this email, please visit http://knowledge.2y.net/issues.php#Sources
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**For the sources cited in this email, please visit http://knowledge.2y.net/issues.php#Sources
  
 
We would also like to draw your attention to several portions of the Senate motion, present in Exhibit I of the Senate Agenda:
 
We would also like to draw your attention to several portions of the Senate motion, present in Exhibit I of the Senate Agenda:
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We hope that you consider some of these outstanding, serious and unresolved concerns when making your decision in senate.
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We hope that you consider these outstanding, serious and unresolved concerns during the discussion and vote on this issue at the upcoming Senate meeting.
  
 
Thank you.
 
Thank you.

Latest revision as of 12:19, 15 April 2004

Dear Senator,

On Friday 16 April 2004, a motion will be put before the Senate to accept the establishment and naming of the Schulich School of Medicine as a condition of a donation by Mr. Seymour Schulich and the Nevada Capital Corporation Ltd. Since the 31 March 2004 announcement of the agreement and renaming of the medical school, there have been several procedural, ethical and conflict-of-interest** concerns raised by students, faculty, alumni and members of the community regarding various aspects of this donation and its conditions. Some of these concerns are highlighted below:

1. Proper and due process has been preempted by the contractual obligation of the medical school to seek approval for the renaming of the medical school, on which the donation is contingent, within 15 days of the first public disclosure of the donation.

The administration and fundraising staff of the school negotiatiated with Mr. Schulich for 18 months regarding the details of this deal. During these 18 months, students, alumni, faculty and community members had no opportunity to provide input or express concerns regarding any aspects of the donation or its conditions. Further, the Faculty Council debate and vote on the motion mentioned above took place within one day of the public announcement, giving faculty insufficient time for any meaningful examination and discussion of the donation or its conditions. Student involvement was also curtailed by a provision of the donor agreement which states that "Senate's approval would be sought no later than 15 days after the public announcement ... [and that] if the Senate were not to approve the establishment and naming of the Schulich School of Medicine at that time, the agreement would be null and void.”

Currently, the only forum for student input on an issue such as the renaming of the medical school is the Senate via student Senate representatives. The rapid pace of the process, from the Announcement on 31 March 2004 (when the sponsor was first identified) to the final Senate vote on 16 April 2004, does not allow sufficient time for students to gather and process information regarding this issue, and form informed opinions with which they can then contact their Senate representatives. This is a particular concern since any details of the conditions of the donation were only made available a week ago, and the final revision of the motion regarding the donation and its conditions was only made public on 14 April 2004, making it impossible to have an informed debate on this large and complex issue. The very short timeline preempts and paralyzes the spirit of the Senate vote, and places serious limits on the proper functioning of this democratic process.

Almost a hundred (97) people, including 72 current medical students and 6 Western alumni, have signed a petition expressing concern with the timing of the Senate vote, and requesting more time for information-gathering and discussion. Unfortunately, this petition was circulated before the 15-day limit for the acceptance of the name change became public. This is a provision which, in effect, equates an understandable request by students for discussion and participation in the Senate process to rejecting the donation. This further underlines the concern for the relevance of the Senate process at this university.

2. The Schulich name is linked to unethical and environmentally destructive practices.

Another major concern involves the fact that Mr. Schulich's name is strongly associated with Newmont, the company of which he is Chair and a controlling shareholder. Newmont is the world's largest gold mining company and, according to OxFam and many other environmental surveillance groups**, the most ecologically destructive gold mining company in the world. There are large public campaigns against all of the company's mining sites due to their deleterious effects on the local environment and the people of the region**. In addition to extremely destructive environmental practices, the company is under investigation by the US Department of Justice for bribing government officials in the purchase of Yanacocha mine in Peru**. Medical students, faculty, alumni and the community are gravely concerned that the linking of the medical school with a name that is associated with such business practices is not in agreement with the high ethical and moral standards set forth by society for the practice of medicine.

We would also like to draw your attention to several portions of the Senate motion, present in Exhibit I of the Senate Agenda:

a. Pre-empting process? Page 4, "Approval and Announcement Schedule":

"Another provision of the gift was that Senate's approval would be sought no later than 15 days after the public announcement ... If Senate were not to approve the establishment and naming of the Schulich School of Medicine at that time, then the agreement would be null and void."

b. Undue influence on school operations and functions?

i. Page 3, "Special Covenants"

"one-fifth (1/5) [or one-fifth plus one] of the members of such National Advisory Committee shall be nominees of Mr. Schulich or Nevada."

ii. Page 6, "The Tanna Schulich Chair of Neuroscience & Mental Health"

"The University and donor commit to jointly reviewing the scientific designation of the Chair from time to time as appropriate, determining as necessary any change in area of research focus as is appropriate with changes in medical and scientific research emphases and needs of the University and society."

iii. Page 7, "Schulich Canada Research Chairs"

"The University and donor commit to jointly reviewing the scientific designation of the Chair from time to time as appropriate, determining as necessary any change in area of research focus as is appropriate with changes in medical and scientific research emphases and needs of the University and society."


c. Corporate involvement? Page 1, "Background" (and other places)

"Mr. Seymour Schulich and Nevada Capital Corporation have pledged a gift of $26,000,000 in support of the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry."


We hope that you consider these outstanding, serious and unresolved concerns during the discussion and vote on this issue at the upcoming Senate meeting.

Thank you.