Volume 93, Issue 29

Thursday, October 21, 1999


Debate kick starts BOG race

Sunday's sexy Sue titillates Western crowd

Thames clean up ordered for blob

Bill Gates denied honorary access

Researcher finds link to love handles



Bill Gates denied honorary access

By Paul-Mark Rendon
Gazette Staff

Microsoft founder Bill Gates recently received an "access denied" message from the University of Victoria.

The university's senate decided against bestowing Gates with an honorary degree, a move applauded by some senators and frowned upon by others, said Kari Worton, director of academics for the school's students' society.

Worton said she praised the decision not to honour Gates and added if the computer mogul received the degree, it would be a move towards the campus' corporatization. "We're generally opposed to increased corporatization and we wouldn't want senate rewarding corporate sponsors on our campus," she said.

John Fraser, a fourth-year biology student and senator at the school, said the vote in senate did not muster enough support. "There's no denying Microsoft has done a lot, it's just [supporters] couldn't get the two-thirds majority," he said.

James Turk, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, agreed the decision marks a victory against university corporatization. "A lot of times that money comes with strings," he said.

"There is little doubt Microsoft has had a tremendous impact on society, but the fact that it's had an impact on the public is different from acting in the public interest," he added.

Turk explained while he was not opposed to a joint initiative between schools and industry, universities were considered golden fleeces by marketers who could use them to build brand loyalty.

But Alan Davenport, an engineering professor at Western, said it is essential and beneficial to have links to industry and corporations on university campuses. "It improves the quality of teaching, gives us case studies and gives students job opportunities," he said. "Universities always express the need to keep at arm's length, but it's necessary to keep up links."

Lorraine Doherty, a spokesperson for Microsoft Canada, said the company refused to comment on internal matters at other institutions.

She added while Microsoft Canada has not donated funds specifically to Canadian universities, the Bill Gates Foundation, an America-based scholarship fund, targets students without access to computers.

Robie Liscomb, a spokesperson for the University of Victoria's communications department, also refused to comment. "Senate is constrained by rules of confidentiality in these matters," he said.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999