The following is a piece written by contributor Kevin Harding and guest contributor Natalie Gan. The piece was written in 2010, but is being published on Politics Respun for the first time.
The issue of controversial corporate donations to public universities is a live one, with the Munk School at the U of T, the Ridell Program in Political Management at Carleton, and others being more and more discussed. Below is a discussion of the Goldcorp donation to Simon Fraser University.
We don’t want your dirty gold!
The pervasiveness of neoliberal capitalism and its continued impacts on every facet of our daily lives are realities that seem to be, all at once, immediately pressing, immense, and impossible to challenge. Recent experiences at Canadian universities and in the arts reinforce the immensity of the challenge, with corporate ‘donations’ being offered to cash-strapped institutions, continuing both the precariousness of public education as well as its marketization, or corporate patronage of the arts, commodifying art as a product of cultural expression to be sold. Worse, many of these donations— essentially purchases of commodified reputation or goodwill —come from corporations that have been accused of enormous violations of environmental, ethical, and human rights laws and standards. Adding to this already deep pile of problematics, some recent donations link areas of life that have not yet been fully ‘neoliberalized’ or completely and forcibly subjected to the vagaries and whims of the market, like education and the arts, with the realities of mining and resource extraction in the global south, solidly connecting different cycles and processes of capitalism and uniting them in a frenzy of accumulation by dispossession and capitalist expansion.