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How dare Oxford let common sense get in the way of moral outrage?

Daniel Kodsi argues that it is perfectly reasonable for the University to accept donations from the Qatari government

Daniel Kodsi
Daniel Kodsi
Hi, I am Chairman of OSPL, Cherwell's publishing house. I was editor during Michaelmas 2016. I read Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at Balliol College and can be reached at [email protected]

In the latest news to rock this proud University, colleges continue to accept money from those organisations offering them money. What ever will be next?

It is unclear to me wherein lies the material harm of accepting the money of the disreputable rich. As best I can make out, the claim appears to be that money is power, and corrupt donors will use bought influence to corrupt the academy. Certainly, all else equal, the University and its constituent colleges should prefer the money of Médecins Sans Frontières to human-rights abusing Qatari oligarchs. But such a choice is not the one being presented. It is instead: take the oil money or forfeit the opportunity to grant scholarships to deserving students.

After all: better our hands than theirs. Rhodes scholars often refer to their scholarship money as reparations. Let us do analogously – to consider Qatari money a payment from the regime for its cruelty. Perhaps more significantly: I have yet to see deleterious impact ensue from the University accepting even questionable donations. The Blavatnik School of Government offers a flattering description of Russian-born billionaire Leonard Blavatnik. But this is a ridiculous quibble – thanks to Len, Oxford now has a school of public policy.

There is, nonetheless, an important point raised by the question of donor influence: that if the financial resources of each college were pooled, the power of the donor would be greatly diminished. So for those concerned, I would suggest campaigning for establishment of a shared endowment, rather than griping every time a college behaves according to the dictates of common sense.

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