Petition against Corporatization and for the Cancellation of the Munk Contract at the University of Toronto
UofT President and Governors
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We, the undersigned, express deep concern over the Memorandum of Agreement between The Peter and Melanie Munk Charitable Foundation and the University of Toronto, for the establishment of the Munk School of Global Affairs. This contract was negotiated behind closed doors and not made public, even to the members of the University of Toronto's Governing Council, until after it was finalized. Additionally, the contract imposes many conditions on the University that compromise its academic integrity, offering a route by which the Donor might exert undue influence on academic matters.
Most troubling in this contract is the inclusion of annual progress reports as a condition for receiving funds. This condition requires that the University provide a detailed written report indicating descriptions of programs, initiatives and activities of the Munk School of Global Affairs. It also requires that the Director of the School meet annually with the Donor's board of directors following the submission of the detailed report.
As there is a $15 million gift that can be terminated based on the Donor's determination as to whether the school is achieving its objectives, and considering that the Donor would meet regularly with the school's director, it is clear that this contract could enable the Donor to exercise undue influence over the Munk School's program areas.
As Peter Munk is the founder and acting chairman of a gold mining company, Barrick Gold, which is accused of human rights abuses, environmental violations, and corrupt practices at many of their operations around the globe, this donor relationship is particularly troubling. Munk's influence on the School is especially troubling as the school's areas of study, International Relations and Global Policy, are areas in which Munk has vested business interests.
Moreover, the manner in which this contract was approved reveals serious flaws in the University's process for accepting and receiving donations. It reveals that the University lacks proper measures to ensure that such conflicts of interest not influence the University's curriculum. Furthermore, the University's reputation is at stake when it brands itself with the names of leaders of questionable industries and businesses.
Therefore we, the undersigned, demand that:
the final approval of any contract associated with a donation be conditional on prior approval by the Academic Board of the Governing Council of the University of Toronto;
any contract stipulating conditions under which donations are to be received be made public on a University website as well as through an announcement in the Varsity Newspaper at least one month before the contract is finalized;
the University protect academic integrity by ensuring that any contract between a donor and the University not include stipulations that offer the donor influence over the University's program areas, be they research, curriculum, right to publish, or any other subject of academic interest;
include democratically-elected student and faculty representation in the approval process for any memorandum of agreements between the University and large donors;
annul and renegotiate the contract with The Peter and Melanie Munk Charitable Foundation to eliminate the suppression of academic freedom inherent in the Donor's ability to cancel an additional $15 million gift at any time, according to their subjective opinion as to whether the University is fulfilling its objectives.
reconsider the branding of the Munk School, considering the Donors conflict of interest with a school that deals with global policy, under a new decision-making process that includes the approval of the Academic Board of the Governing Council of the University of Toronto.
support the resolution submitted to the University of Toronto Governing Council that would strike a standing committee made up of students, faculty, staff and their representative organizations as well as relevant community members to vet the ethical questions around accepting future donations from corporate sources and to ensure there are no strings attached.