[Sent Sunday 11APR2004 10:30 pm]
I'll answer your direct questions first and then add several other things at the end. I apologize for the length. If you have any more questions please contact me by email until 7 pm and phone (519-474-6797) or email after that.
In terms of attribution of the quotes I think the best thing to do would to contact me once you know what quotes you would like to use and I will give you names for them. Basically the statement above has been arrived at by 5-6 people in a collaborative effort.
Also we would really appreciate it if you could refer to the website http://knowledge.2y.net where readers can obtain more information.
 why there are concerns about the naming of the school?
There are a variety of concerns amongst the students. There are different groups with different, and sometimes conflicting concerns, some of which I will outline below. However, the most immediate issue on which all concerned students agree is the fact that neither students nor faculty were consulted in the process, and that no time was allowed to discuss the large variety of unresolved concerns out there Those concerned students are simply seeking a pause in the finalization of the decision to accept the donation and rename the medical school. Such a pause would allow participation and involvement by students, faculty, alumni and interested community members.
Many people feel forced to support or oppose this issue without having had time to obtain enough information, or process their concerns. A notable example is Dr. Jeff Nisker, the faculty's coordinator of bioethics. At a meeting with students last week (the meeting covered by the Gazette), he started by saying that his ethical concerns were allayed because the money is going directly to students. During the discussion, it quickly became clear that he was unaware of a lot of the students' concerns, and had not heard of (nor researched) the issues surrounding Mr. Schulich's business activities. He admitted that he was getting a lot of new information, and by the end of the session was no longer openly endorsing the donation (though he did not revoke his original statement).
So the most important point right now, and the one to which all the actions are directed is seeking to make the process of attracting and accepting private donations more transparent, both in the case of this donation and for future donations.
Below is a sample of the concerns that we have collected to date, but for the moment they are all secondary. Unless the senate decision is delayed, none of these issues can be addressed prior to the finalization of the decision.
1. Should the medical school's name be up for sale?
2. If yes, does it matter who it's being named after and the type of activities, ethics, etc. that that person, or the companies he runs, is linked with (e.g., Mr. Schulich's Newmont Mining Company -Mr. Schulich is the chair of Newmont Capital, sits on the board of directors of Newmont Mining and is a controlling shareholder- amongst other activities, dumps 120 000 tons of Cyanide into Indonesian coast waters each day, devastating the local ecosystem and causing brain damage and other adverse health effects to local inhabitants. The company is under investigation by the US Department of Justice for bribing Peruvian officials in the purchase of the Yanacocha mines (See notes at the end for more details and sources).
3. By accepting this donation and changing its name, will the medical school be seen as condoning (or complicit in) the actions of Mr. Schulich and his company, which is the direct source of the donated funds?
4. Isn't there something ethically and morally wrong with medical students directly benefiting (recipients will get $80 000 each across 4 years) from a process that causes environmental devastation and significant health problems in other parts of the world?
5. Many students and alumni (some of whom are not as concerned about the source of the money) have expressed concern that the name of the school, as the most valuable bargaining chip the school has to offer to donors, should have been reserved for a much larger donation (McMaster's medical school received $105 million directly from the donor for its naming). This donation is seen by some as setting the cap for future donations, and the concern is that accepting the donation with the current terms is a poor financial decision in the long run.
6. Still others believe that, if the school is to be named, it should be named after one of the many physicians and scientists who have dedicated their lives working to advance medicine and patient care, and not after a donor whose contribution, while generous, was purely financial.
 what do those students who have concerns want to happen now?
At the moment, concerned students want transparency in all of the procedures that have thus far been opaque, meaning that all the relevant information and conditions of the deal should be made public. In particular, many students would like the senate vote (currently scheduled for 16 April) to be delayed so that the parties on all sides have a chance to raise their as-of-yet unresolved concerns for discussion amongst students, faculty, alumni and the community. This would allow the necessary details of the deal, information surrounding it, and concerns about it to be clarified, and would allow for representatives of the senate to gain a fuller appreciation of the issues surrounding the renaming before voting on the issue, and not after. At the moment, things are going too quickly, and there isn't enough time to gather all the necessary facts and have the discussions necessary to make an informed decision on the issues.
 do you see any positives about this move and wouldn't these possibly outweigh the negatives, other faculties on campus have already been named (Ivey Business, Wright Music) plus many others at other institutions - if this is the way universities can get funding isn't it worth it?
Before we get to this point, I just want to reiterate that at the moment, students are asking for the opportunity to ask such questions as "Do the positives outweigh the negatives?", but for that question to be adequately addressed, time must be taken to figure out what the positives and negatives are. Students simply haven't been given any time, and there is presently no indication that students will be given the information or time necessary to make an informed decision on such questions.
Having said that, students, alumni and members of the community have been rushing to answer this very question. Even those who feel that this specific donation should not have been accepted don't deny that the isolated act of the donation, or the way the money is reportedly being used (going mostly to students directly) are good. The actual selling of the name is an issue, but a somewhat less contentious one at the moment (though there are quite a few students who feel rather strongly about it). The issue for many is the source of the funds, especially for those who are interested in international health and ecosystem health (an area in which our medical school is doing pioneering work).
Some argue that the source of the money is not important. Taking an extreme example, though, if the money had come from the Bin Laden brothers (who have supposedly disowned Osama and continue to do legal business in association with many major North American corporations), it is very unlikely that the school would consider naming itself the Bin Laden School of Medicine. The isolated act of donating would be good, but the association with the name would be unacceptable despite the fact it has nothing to do with the criminal Bin Laden. Obviously, "Schulich" is neither "Bin Laden" nor "Florence Nightingale". No donor is perfect. Most large corporations have something to be uncomfortable about. It's a matter of degree and where we want to draw the line. Should we reject a donation because Donor X fired an employee unfairly 10 years ago? What if her company was accused of human rights abuses? What about devastating an entire ecosystem on the other side of the world? Are there companies and individuals who do worse? Surely. We shouldn't be taking their money either. In this case, many of those who have looked at Newmont's business practices think Mr. Schulich, as its chairman and major shareholder, is very far on the wrong side of the line. Some have contacted Mr. Schulich's office with concerns as students of the likely Schulich School of Medicine. They have not yet received any response.
Another point raised by several students and faculty is that the naming of a medical school can't be looked at in the same light as the naming of business school. Physicians are entrusted with looking after the health and well being of patients. As a result, society expects physicians to adhere to extremely high moral and ethical standards. As Dr. Nisker said: "Medicine is a moral enterprise, not a business enterprise." Physicians are expected at all times to be altruistic - to not be swayed by money and personal profit, but to always look out for the good of patients and society. This is what students are attempting to do with regards to this issue. The acceptance of a donation, and the naming of our medical school after a man who clearly does not meet the high moral and ethical standards set forth by society with respect to medicine, is a very serious concern and a clear conflict of interest.
The most common criticism against those working for transparency and participation in decisions of this type is that we - the future doctors of Canada - are naive and idealistic, and that big business is inherently dirty and unethical. So, the criticism continues, if we have problems with this donation, then no donor will ever be "good enough". This criticism fails to consider that universities and medical schools can always make do. If there is no appropriate donor, schools should not have to abrogate their social and ethical responsibilities to make one appropriate.
Students and the public understand that government policies of the last 10-15 years have left universities desperate for funding, which has led some universities to seek recourse in private donations. Many students, faculty and members of the public have been involved in actions against those policies, with some success. Only a couple of days ago, a two year funded tuition freeze was announced by the provincial government. Nevertheless, for the moment, private donations are an undeniable reality. Most of the students are not opposed to private donations. It is this one in particular that students are taking issue with. Could the faculty have done worse? Surely. Could they have done better? We think so. Perhaps this would have led to a smaller donation, but at least it would have been money that more students could accept with an easier and clearer conscience than is the case with Mr. Schulich's donation.
These are a few perspectives on some of the many outstanding issues. There are students who do not fully support these views, and there may be facts as-yet unknown to us that alleviate or aggravate these concerns. At the moment, all anyone is asking for is a chance to have an informed debate, and be given the necessary information and conditions of the deal before the decision is finalized. This is the point on which so many students, faculty, alumni and members of the public agree.
For more information on this you can also visit our website http://knowledge.2y.net/.
Lastly if you are interested in doing some research into Newmont and their activities here are some of our sources. (But this is not the issue our group is dealing with at the moment, and the concern is not even shared by all the members of the group)
- Newmont's own site 
- Accused of human rights abuses 
- Peruvians demand compensation for pollution from the huge Yanacocha mine, operated by Newmont 
- Winner, 2003 Dirty Digger Award 
- Indigenous groups worldwide blast US Mining giant 
- Oxfam article demanding action for various abuses and environmental damage 
- Project Underground's Newmont campaign 
- Another watch group for Newmont: Great Basin Mine Watch 
There are also other sources we have yet to process and organize on Newmont - http://www.bostoncommonam.com/news/newmont-disclosure.html - http://www.oxfamamerica.org/news/art6627.html
- Material on the Yanacocha mine in Peru: http://www.oxfamamerica.org/advocacy/art3140.html http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0407/baard.php http://www.caa.org.au/campaigns/mining/women/tunnelvisionpapers/msimatauw.html http://www.cajamarca.de/mine/oxfam.htm
- Whitefish Lake First Nation law suit