April 7, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 99  

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Take the money and run...

Who would have thought a gift of $26 million to the faculty of medicine and dentistry would have medical students up in arms?

Last week, Seymour Schulich announced the largest gift in the history of both Western and the City of London. His donation is primarily intended to provide financial assistance for medical students in the form of scholarships.

In exchange for his generous funding — and pending Senate approval — the school will be renamed the Schulich School of Medicine and degrees will also bear the Schulich name.

Sounds like a small price to pay for such an enormous donation, doesn’t it?

Not according to med students. In a meeting held yesterday, med students took the opportunity to vent their frustration at having been “excluded” from the decision to accept Schulich’s offer.

They are angry because they believe having the Schulich name on their degrees will essentially devalue the degrees, especially considering what some students alleged were unethical nature of some of Schulich’s business practices.

But if that argument is credible, then the medical school would have to reject donations from almost any wealthy individual or corporation in existence.

Perhaps these students would enjoy being under-funded — that is certainly the message they are sending by kicking up a fuss about Schulich’s donation.

Talk about kicking a gift horse in the mouth.

Schulich’s money is not just going towards a building or a giant bronze Schulich statue that forces students to remember his greatness on a daily basis; it is going towards students and is meant to improve the quality of Western’s faculty of medicine and dentistry.

Furthermore, the idea that the Schulich name would devalue medical degrees is ludicrous. Perhaps the “McDonald’s School of Medicine” or the “Fidel Castro School of Medicine” would raise eyebrows — and rightfully so — but the “Schulich School of Medicine” is no more obtrusive than the “Richard Ivey School of Business.”

These devoted anti-Schulich med students have begun circulating a petition to garner support for their cause. And what a righteous cause it is: ensuring that a $26 million donation is poorly received, or better yet, encouraging Schulich to take it back.

Just think how this reaction might affect potential future donors.

It is fairly clear to anyone outside this group of petitioning med students that Schulich’s donation is a benefit to our school. Western was chosen from four prominent Canadian universities to be the recipient of Schulich’s funding, but now some of the very students who will benefit from his generosity are crying foul.

The poor reaction to Schulich’s enormous donation is not only inexplicable, but an embarrassment.



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