MAC: Mines and Communities

Corporate Mining's influence on academia - comment

Published by MAC on 2005-06-18

Corporate Mining's influence on academia - comment

18th June 2005

At Memorial University of Newfoundland where I am currently studying, Inco, notorious Canadian nickel mining company, donated $25 million to the university to erect a building in the heart of our campus. It is called the "Inco Innovation Centre" and half of the building will be devoted to researching the mining company's Voisey's Bay ore deposit and hydrometallurgical process.

When I aired my concerns to the university president about the problems I had with the university jumping in bed with Inco, the president's response was that they had an asbestos problem in the old building and Inco provided a solution to replace that building. I got no response on how he felt about Inco playing a role in the assassination of professors and students in Guatemala in the 1970s.

Our university president (who was recently named one of Atlantic Canada's top CEOs) was a special advisor to Methanex during a time when the company was suing California over their environmental laws under Chapter 11 of NAFTA. We are forming a Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) at the university. One reason is because research funded by corporations is spreading everywhere where elite Master of Oil and Gas Studies are the trend.

University slogans are changing from 'show me the truth' to 'show me the money.' Corporations are only interested in throwing some money in the cash strapped arts and basic sciences when it serves their PR purposes. Petro Canada donated money to the music building and now we have Petro Canada hall as a major venue for events and on every single poster of a musical performance plastered around campus.

University places used to be named after community leaders but now we have Exxon Mobil labs and Inco Centres. Corporations funding universities is not new but the level at which it is taking over public funding is obviously growing and having more of an effect on university research and education. Besides the naming of buildings and the funding of seminars, the industry directed research has students not really studying what they want to study in an era where student debt load is dictating what a student studies in order to get a job that will pay off their debt. Also, the highest decision making body of universities like the Board of Regents/Governors have some of the most notorious mining, oil and gas company reps sitting on their boards. The icing on this corporate campus is that Inco CEO Scott Hand will be awarded an honourary doctorate at the 2005 fall convocation.

In Solidarity with UNSRAT students, Tracy Glynn (Mines and Communities editor)

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