Volume 92, Issue 42

Wednesday, November 18, 1998



Financing too much secrecy

Bravo Western. Over $10 million will have been raised by 2001 from selling property at the corner of Fanshawe Park Road and Richmond Street. The land was sold to private development companies in an effort to create revenue from alternative sources.

But for some reason the university decided it did not want the fact Western is bringing this money in to be widespread public knowledge.

Now, understandably not all of this money is guaranteed to be received by the university – about $2.5 million depends on whether Sifton Properties Limited receives permission to build a retirement village in that area. So until this is finalized, why should anyone know that Western has received $4.7 million from those real estate deals?

This university is a public institution and needs to be accountable to its stakeholders, that's why.

Students pay anywhere between $3,000 and $14,000 to Western on an annual basis, while entrusting the university administration to spend the money responsibly toward education and facilities. But the question arises, if Western is not forthcoming about the fact that over $10 million will soon be padding the proverbial treasury over at the Stevenson-Lawson Building, how do students, faculty, staff and other members of the university community know if other parts of the budget are kept quiet?

This is not to say there is something foul going on in Western's finances or in senior administration. The point is, with the way things are currently being run, one cannot be too sure.

Senior administration are not providing enough accountability.

Not only should students be informed of how their university is being run, there is also a responsibility to enlighten all three levels of government, as well as taxpayers, as to what is being done with the millions of dollars of public money which the university uses to operate. Taxpayers, students and corporate donors fund Western, but it seems the only thing that is public knowledge is the amount of money Western receives from tuition and from the government.

And once that money is received it's anyone's guess as to where it's going because there is no real mechanism checking up on Western's accounting practices. It's time for a much bigger audit.

This university's finances should not be operated with a corporate-style shroud of secrecy. It is a public institution and should be operated as such.

To Contact The Editorial Department: gazette.editor@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998