Corporate courtesans and happy customers

Dear Nouse,

I found it striking that the Chair of the Biosciences Society, Beckie Cooper, when pledging her support for StemCell Ventures Inc.’s investment, gave explicit assurance that she would back such projects ‘only as long as the aims of the department remain academic rather than in securing lucrative contracts such as this one.’

Naturally, most students at York would rather see managerial focus directed at themselves and the departments than at business goals. But there are murmurings abroad suggesting the university is some sort of corporate courtesan, leaping into bed with investors and snapping up shares in ‘unethical’ companies.

There is such a thing as unethical investment: as students we may feel culpable by association. But education cannot be removed from the grubby world of finance and placed aloft in some rarefied, eternally democratic haven. A university is a business like any other, and the assumption that universities are democratically accountable to their students leaves a very bad taste in the mouth. As a customer, there is only one way to vote, and that’s with your feet.

James MacDougald
Goodricke College

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