Volume 93, Issue 6

Friday, June 18, 1999


Stadium plans jump out of starting block

Bank CEO sparks protest at Toronto U

If scholarship's not Scottish, it's crap!

Cracks in program may plague Registrar's office

Police make arrest in Drink investigation

Study says veggies can't beat meat



Caught on campus

Caught on campus again

Bank CEO sparks protest at Toronto U

By Paul-Mark Rendon
Gazette Staff

Tempers flared at a recent University of Toronto convocation ceremony when an honourary doctorate was awarded to Bank of Montreal President and Chief Executive Officer, Tony Comper.

Joel Harden, Ontario chair for the Canadian Federation of Students, said a handful of students banded together outside the university's Convocation Hall on Monday to protest Comper's presence.

Harden said bestowing the degree to Comper was not in the best interest of students. He explained since the Bank of Montreal profits from students who seek private loans, it would be inappropriate to give Comper an honourary degree.

"Mr. Comper has presided over some of the biggest tuition increases in Canada. We don't want to honour that sort of achievement," Harden said. "He comes from an age that tremendously benefited from its education. A lot of people will not be able to afford an education he himself benefited from."

Harden added Comper's role on U of T's Governing Council was a conflict of interest to his role as CEO at the bank. "I don't think you can have it both ways," he said.

Elan Ohayan, a student representative on the U of T's Governing Council, agreed honouring Comper was a conflict of interest.

"The way we saw it, his bank is actually profiting from students. His salary is indexed to the Bank of Montreal's profits," he said, adding the bank's increasing role in providing student loans would serve to increase Comper's salary.

However, U of T's director of public affairs, Susan Bloch-Nevitte, said Comper was recognized for his large contribution to the university. "He is the leader of our current [funding] campaign and has made big contributions including $250 million in student aid."

Bloch-Nevitte said she dismissed the concerns and was surprised to hear of the protest. "I couldn't actually tell there were any students protesting. I don't argue there were a lot of people there, but I didn't see any protesters," she said.

Jim Morreale, spokesperson for the Bank of Montreal, said the student protesters may have seen a conflict in Comper's dual roles with the Bank of Montreal and U of T's Governing Council, but Comper's history with the university made him deserving of the degree. "He's a grad. He's volunteered his time there for years. It's kind of strange why they would protest," he said.

Mark Kissel, VP-education for Western's University Students' Council, said he was not surprised to hear of the student's disapproval. "I see where they are concerned. Student debt load is a hot topic. Of course it's going to cause some concern."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999