The UCU have released a statement calling for greater transparency regarding the £150 million donation by Stephen A. Schwarzman to the new humanities centre. They called for the University to adopt “new transparent and democratic procedures regarding gifts and donations, including the creation of a democratically elected deliberative body composed of faculty, students, staff, alumni, and local representatives.”

The UCU was contacted for comment by Cherwell but responded saying that “Oxford UCU is now waiting for a response from the University and cannot comment further until this is received.”

In the statement, the UCU expressed their concern that the acceptance of the donation “contravenes the University’s professed aims regarding (1) equality and diversity and (2) climate change.”

The UCU said: “Blackstone is one of the world’s largest corporate residential landlords. According to Leilani Farha, the UN special rapporteur for adequate housing, it is significantly responsible for fuelling the global housing crisis.”

The statement also criticised Mr Schwarzman’s links to the Trump presidency saying that “Stephen A. Schwarzman was an influential advisor to President Donald Trump during the period of the presidency that saw Executive Order 13769, the so-called “Muslim Travel Ban”.”

After expressing their concern about the lack of transparency in the decision-making process, the UCU called for the University to provide “further details of how the decision was made to accept Schwarzman’s donation, including a full account of the steps taken by the University’s Committee to Review Donations and information on the make-up of the Committee.” as well as to “clarify the proposed governance structure of the new “Institute for Ethics in AI”, which will also be housed at the Schwarzman Centre.”

Responding to the request for the vetting documents to be made public, a university spokesperson said: “Academics from across the Divisions represented on the Committee to Review Donations, and we did involve some students in the plans for the Centre before the announcement… The public release of documents relating to the review process could damage the University’s relationship with an individual or body that has been subject to that process. This could also deter prospective donors.”

Thomas Clements, spokesperson for Blackstone, told Cherwell that “To imply that Mr. Schwarzman played any role – formally or informally – in the Administration’s immigration policy is misleading and irresponsible.”

The UCU’s statement follows a motion from the Union Council’s meeting which called for the full details of the University’s vetting and decision making process to be made public.


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