Letter to Senators

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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 result of a sponsorship deal by Mr. Seymour Schulich and the Nevada Capital Corporation Ltd. Since the 31 March 2004 announcement of the sponsorship 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. 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 announcement 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 agreement. Further, the Faculty Council debate and vote to accept the motion mentioned above took place within one day of the public announcement - giving faculty insufficient time for the meaningful examination and discussion of the sponsorship, the details of which they were not provided. 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. There is concern that 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 the final details of the sponsor agreement, in the form of the motion provided to Senators, was only made public on 14 April 2004, making it virtually 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 this request by students for discussion and maximum participation in the Senate process to rejecting the donation. This further underlines the concern for the relevance of the Senate process at the university.

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

Another chief concern 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 environmental 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(**). 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 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

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 some of these outstanding, serious and unresolved concerns during the discussion and vote on this issue during the upcoming Senate meeting.

Thank you.