Students at almost 30 colleges are holding protests, demanding: “UnKoch My Campus!” They want more transparency from their colleges about the academic influence they feel billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch have “bought” with their sizable donations to the schools. Since 2005, the brothers have donated nearly $50 million to 254 colleges nationwide according to an interactive database published by Greenpeace.
The largest college recipient so far is George Mason University, which has received $24 million from Koch organizations since 2005. Student protestors at the university are demanding to know what departments and programs have received that funding.
The university’s president maintains that donors are not allowed to sway academic decisions.
Students at schools supported by the Koch brothers have a reason to be suspicious. There is a history of Koch-backed colleges accepting requirements of academic influence that come along with the money. In 2011, Florida State University revealed that a donation to the university’s economics department came with a donor-approved advisory board that could veto hiring decisions.
Most of the Koch brother’s donations to colleges are for hiring professors, building economic research centers, or supporting research about libertarian politics. Although college officials could certainly reject a donation if it doesn’t further the educational purposes of the school, according to Forbes, no school has yet publicly turned down a Koch gift.
Has your organization been offered a donation from the Koch brothers? Did it come without explicit or implicit requirements? If your organization was offered a donation with requirements such as these – whether from the Koch brothers or otherwise – would it accept it?