April 7, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 99  

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Historic donation dissed
Students complain about med school name change

By Laura Katsirdakis
Gazette Staff

The recent $26 million donation by Seymour Schulich to the faculty of medicine and dentistry is not without controversy; yesterday a group of medical students met to discuss the ethics of a public institution accepting a large private donation and the lack of student input into the decision to change the faculty’s name to The Schulich School of Medicine.

The discussion was organized by a group of medical students and facilitated by Jeff Nisker, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and oncology, and the co-ordinator of bioethics at the faculty of medicine and dentistry.

According to Nisker, the donation is acceptable because the money is being used for students and the school is being named after a person rather than a corporation.

The intent of the donation — by giving some students scholarships — is to increase accessibility to the school. The donation will provide 60 undergraduate medical students with $20,000 a year each in tuition and educational expenses, and 50 graduate students will also receive $15,000.

“The quality of the degree will be lower with a private person’s name on it — the chance of getting this scholarship doesn’t offset this loss of quality,” one student said.

“Students are only here for four years, but we pay $50,000 a year — students are major stakeholders, we should have some kind of voice,” another audience member said, pointing out that administrators like the dean may be gone in five years, but students, faculty and staff will always be at Western.

“Do I want to spend the rest of my life with this guy’s name on my degree?” a student asked. Several students pointed to the allegedly questionable ethics of Schulich’s business dealings when contemplating this issue.

“I am only here because of people who generously gave me scholarships,” said another student, pointing out that medical school is a serious financial burden to some.

Azad Mashari and Agnes Toth, both first-year medical students who helped organize the discussion, said the main concern is that students were not consulted.

A petition, circulated among audience members, acknowledged the varied opinions of signatories, and asked that the Apr. 16 Senate meeting to ratify the name change be pushed back to allow student discussion and input. It also asked “that since this donation affects all UWO Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry students — past, present and future — they, as major stakeholders, should be given access to all information necessary to have an informed debate on the issue, and should be involved in the decision-making process.”

“Accessibility issues start way before med school,” Toth said, in response to the argument that the donation would increase accessibility.



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