SFU students protest Goldcorp naming of arts centre
Here’s a press release from SFU students protesting how the university’s new arts centre in Vancouver is going to be named after Goldcorp, thanks to a fat contribution. The students are opposed because of the mining company’s relationship with indigenous groups.
SFU community locked out of public board of governors meeting
Protestors denounced $10 Million donation by mining corporation Goldcorp [Vancouver, BC]-
Faculty, students, and staff from SFU rallied in downtown Vancouver today to protest a lack of transparency and communication surrounding Goldcorp’s $10 000 000 purchase of naming rights at SFU’s centre for Contemporary Arts. Rather than being let in to the public meeting to present hundreds of signatures on petitions they had collected, the protesters were locked out and disrupted the meeting from continuing.
The protesters occupied the lobby for an hour. This Board of Governors has so far refused to hear a presentation about concerns the SFU community has with the donation. The rally assembled in front of SFU Harbour Centre and marched en masse to the Segal Graduate Centre for Business located near by, where the meeting took place.
The assembly of students, faculty and union workers ultimately dumped their gold confetti bedazzled collection of petitions overhead as the remaining Board of Governors members left. Students challenged them as they left to listen to the university community’s demands. Professor of English Stephen Collis voiced concern over the donation’s infringement on free speech. “The reality of Canadian libel law is that corporations can use it to their advantage to silence criticism. Mining companies have attempted to sue professors in Quebec for libel.” According to many human rights and environmental organizations, the Goldcorp has an infamous track record of failing to adequately consult with local Indigenous communities, as well as often violate labour standards and environmental health. This is particularly visible at the company’s Marlin Mine in Guatemala.
SFU Against Goldcorp and Gentrification (SAGG) organized the rally. This group of students, faculty and campus union workers came together following the surprise announcement of the donation and its use. As part of the deal, the name of SFU’s newest campus will be the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts at SFU Woodwards. Myka Tucker-Abramson is an English Graduate student and member of SAGG. She said, “We were concerned that SFU was helping to ‘Charitywash’ Goldcorp because claims from human rights and environmental organizations’ reports accused the mining giant of violating environmental standards and human rights, especially of Indigenous people”.
SFU community members in attendance are critical of the fact that the University’s core funding from government continues to decrease. They are concerned that this pushes the administration to increasingly accept corporate money while being unaccountable to the University community regarding its use and source. According to SAGG member Jennifer Scott, “Instead of post-secondary education being a publicly funded and accountable institution, donations like the one from Goldcorp lead to the erosion of public post-secondary institutions. Education should be publicly funded, eliminating the need for private donations that always come with ‘strings attached’.”
SAGG’s Four Demands are: 1) that SFU remove Goldcorp’s name from all SFU buildings and projects; 2) that SFU develop a process to give Downtown Eastside residents control over how to spend the $5 million earmarked by Goldcorp for DTES ‘development’; 3) that SFU develop a transparent and accountable donation policy to ensure it will not accept funding from corporations that engage in unjust social and environmental practices; 4) that provincial and federal governments restore full public funding for public education. These demands have been endorsed by SFU’s Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU), Graduate Student Society (GSS), and hundreds of other students, staff, faculty and community members.