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Students’ Union president calls for investigation of university’s relationship with Enbridge

By Fabian Mayer, November 2 2015 —

Students’ Union president Levi Nilson is calling for an independent investigation into the University of Calgary’s relationship with Enbridge after possible infringements of academic freedom surfaced on Nov. 2.

CBC investigation alleges that Enbridge had significant influence in setting up the Enbridge Centre for Corporate Sustainability as a result of a pledged 10-year $2.25 million donation.  The company’s name was removed from the centre in the fall of 2014 after it shifted its funding to other areas of the university.

Nilson said it would be very concerning if the allegations of Enbridge’s influence in shaping the centre’s direction are true. He believes an independent investigation would help shed light on the presence of any wrongdoing.

“I think that makes sense, especially in something with potential ramifications for academic freedom on campus,” Nilson said. “I think there’s still some unanswered questions about how exactly president Cannon was involved in some of the decision-making processes.”

Cannon has been an independent director of Enbridge Income Fund Holdings since late 2010. This information was previously disclosed publicly. 

Nilson was unsure who would conduct an independent investigation or exactly what it would look like, but stressed the importance of the issue.

“Everybody should value academic freedom and from what it looks like that was sort of infringed upon,” Nilson said.

While he understands the necessity of corporate donations, Nilson believes there should be clear rules around donors’ influence.

“I think the Board of Governors needs to take a more active role in ensuring stuff like this doesn’t happen,” Nilson said. “If that money has strings attached related to academic programming, that’s absolutely unacceptable.”

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