Request for Short Letters of Support from UnKoch My Campus

BY KAILEY ADKINS

Students and faculty have been clear: George Mason University must begin reviewing all of their future donor agreements for conflicts of interest and make them more transparent to the public.

The Provost at George Mason University will be presenting his recommendations to the university’s board to improve gift acceptance policies next Wednesday. This is a good sign, but the university has long-ignored calls from faculty and students for change. I need your help to make sure the Board of Visitors at George Mason University honors faculty and student demands, too.

It is time for the university’s Board of Visitors to officially implement safeguards to protect against this type of influence moving forward. But it’s hard work to hold our leaders accountable while also studying for finals.

Can you help me motivate the Board?

Click here to submit a short letter telling them you stand with the students and faculty at George Mason University.

Thanks,

Kailey Adkins, Transparent GMU

Kailey Adkins is a George Mason University student and a member of Transparent GMU

 

14 thoughts on “Request for Short Letters of Support from UnKoch My Campus

  1. How do I sign a petition that says “Take the (Koch) money and run”? As long as the money does not come with strings attached, why pass up funding that can do some good?

    I’m serious. How do I let George Mason U. know that I think they should accept the gift?

    This from a Marxist!

  2. UnKoch My Campus is engaged in harassment of faculty on ideological grounds, and ironically their funding is no more transparent than that which they complain about.

    It is appalling that a professional organization is supporting this ideological harassment of fellow faculty members.

    • No one can account for the actions of all individuals within any group. That said, to my knowledge, although UnKoch My Campus has certainly responded to individual faculty members who have sought to vilify or otherwise to misrepresent its mission, its fundamental approach has not been to target individual recipients of Koch grants. Putting aside that such tactics would not get at the root of the issue and that the group simply does not have the resources to engage in such tactics, their focus has primarily been on insuring some degree of institutional transparency in the reporting of the conditions attached to the Koch grants. And, in most cases in which those conditions have been made more transparent, faculty senates have raised serious concerns about the circumvention, if not violation, of principles of shared governance and academic freedom.

      In any case, given that the whole point of the Koch grants is to promote a very defined ideological agenda, it is disingenuous, at best, to complain that UnKoch My Campus has an ideological bias. Likewise, given both the lack of transparency on most large grants from the Koch Foundation and the huge disparity between the funding dispersed by the Koch Foundation and that received by UnKoch My Campus, it would be rhetorically ridiculous to complain about a lack of transparency in the latter’s funding, even if there were any. But it is almost certainly an accusation without serious merit, for the donations that UnKoch My Campus receives (which I believe include a modest grant from AAUP) are almost certainly indicated on their quarterly tax filings. Having been involved in a number of political and arts-related advocacy groups, I know firsthand that such small groups simply cannot afford the legal expertise required to make their transactions less transparent.

      • martinkich,
        What is the violation of academic freedom? Faculty seek support from a funding source, it funds them because it likes the work they do, and they are supported in doing the work they want to do. The academic freedom canard is is transparently perverse.

        It is not disingenuous to complain that UKMC has an ideological bias. It is evident in their efforts. They attack free-market advocacy and in their very name it shows that their focus is on two donors whose politics they oppose (although UKMC is curiously silent, I believe, on the Koch brothers’ support or marijuana legalization and sentencing reform). Nor do they show evidence of concern about investigating agreements from donors of a more liberal leaning for academic programs more to the liking of liberals. And Ralph Wilson is not secretive about his pro-Marxist, anti-capitalist values. While he is certainly as free to have those values as the Kochs are to have there values, let us not pretend they are not at play here just as much as the Kochs’ values are.

        As it is UKMC that has initiated the criticisms about transparency in funding, the rhetorical ridiculousness is all on their part if their own funding is not transparent. As to their funding, I am not talking about the AAUP grant. To try to direct attention solely to that one small portion of their funding is disingenuous at best. They receive funding from other foundations that bundle and funnel doners’ money. I personally find that wholly legitimate, but when one establishes a standard, one cannot excuse oneself from compliance with it. It is simply not sufficient to note that they are too small to be transparent. If transparency itself is really their issue, then they must live by their own principles.

      • Martin,

        As best as I can tell, no one has “misrepresent[ed the] mission” of UnKochMyCampus. I am one of the academics who they recorded at a professional conference without my permission and then publicly misrepresented what I said in a way to defame me and otherwise try to score political points.

        I’m at a loss to provide a reasonable explanation for how an organization like AAUP, one that supposedly cares about academic freedom, would provide financial support for an organization like UnKochMyCampus. Since you pushed for this organization to receive funding from the AAUP, perhaps you can provide some explanation for why you think this group should receive AAUP funding.

        • I cannot help but notice that neither you nor James Hanley have addressed the core issue of the demonstrated lack of transparency about the conditions attached to many of the larger gifts from the Koch Foundation. However much UnKoch My Campus has antagonized the two of you personally, those gifts have concerned a very broad cross-section of faculty nationally.

          Also, I have no idea where the statement “Since you pushed for this organization to receive funding from the AAUP” is coming from. I have supported the broader efforts of UnKoch My Campus by posting updates from them, but the blog posts reflect my opinion, not the official positions of AAUP. I know that AAUP gave the group a grant because I attended a presentation at last June’s annual meeting, and the grant was mentioned. But I have no role whatsoever in AAUP’s financial decisions on the national level. I have never served on National Council, and it has been a while now since I have served on the Executive Committee of the Collective Bargaining Congress. (And it may very well be that the grant came from the AAUP Foundation, which has a separate Board from the other two entities.) In any case, perhaps as you are complaining about having your own positions misrepresented to score political points, you should be less quick to make assertions about my actions or those of anyone else in order to score political points.

          • Martin, you can’t have it both ways. Replace UnKoch My Campus with Turning Point USA. Now assume someone on the political right who is associated with some other group that claims to be a professional organization that represents a large number of academics does all of the same things you’ve done in terms of supporting TPUSA. If they responded like you had in terms of wiping their hands of responsibility, you’d take them to task for that (and rightly so).

            As for transparency, universities never make donation agreements public. This isn’t unique to Koch Foundation gifts. I’m on the record in saying that all gift agreements at public universities should be public and all agreements at private universities should be known to the faculty.

            Anyway, all of this gets away from the fact that the AAUP just gave a 10k grant to an organization that engages in the targeted harassment of university faculty members in an attempt to undermine their academic freedom, while, at the same time, having a public campaign where they claim to be interested in supporting academic freedom. As someone who is connected with the AAUP (even if it’s not the central organization), I’m asking you to defend that. Or, if you think they shouldn’t have done that, you can share that opinion too.

          • First, the analogy to Turning POINT USA is not apt because Turning Point has been founded and is largely funded by the Koch Foundation. UnKoch My Campus does not have that sort of relationship to any individual donors, never mind single sponsoring organization.

            Second, even beyond the responses to this one post, the complaints against UnKoch My Campus that have been expressed to me always cite personal complaints about the group’s tactics, but the emphasis is then almost always on what the group is doing more broadly, which is always framed in very strong ideological terms (almost always the word “communist” gets inserted somewhere). But, there is a very big jump between your voicing a personal complaint and expecting, on that basis, for me (never mind for an association such as AAUP that represents more than 50,000 faculty at all sorts of institutions) to disavow a group that I (we) believe is doing necessary work. I mean, honestly, if I voiced some similar, personal complaint about the tactics of the Koch Foundation or Turning Point USA, would you even consider disavowing either of those groups?

            The one thing that we do agree on is that all corporate and individual donors should be held to the same standards and level of transparency. I am assuming that if donors with progressive agendas have been doing the same things as the Koch Foundation has been doing, someone on the right would have been all over it by now. Surely, undertaking that sort of investigation has occurred to someone involved with Turning Point USA. After all, each week the National Review finds something asinine going on at some American campus and uses that example to suggest that higher education as a whole has been completely hijacked by political correctness and every other imaginable Leftist sin. It is hardly the case that all of the ideological bias is on the Left. In fact, it seems pretty clear that the success of UnKoch My Campus is actually the reason why the group is attracting such fiercely negative attention.

          • Sorry Martin, but you are wrong. The Koch Foundation has given NO money to TPUSA. I have that from leadership at the Foundation when I asked about precisely this issue. You owe your readers a retraction for that piece of false information.

            Given that, would you reconsider your answer to Chris’s question?

          • Martin,

            UKMC has done nothing to me personally. I object to their harassment of fellow academics based on ideological differences.

          • Martin: “[F]or me (never mind for an association such as AAUP that represents more than 50,000 faculty at all sorts of institutions) to disavow a group [UnKoch My Campus] that I (we) believe is doing necessary work.”

            That really says it all, no? According to you and the AAUP, UnKoch My Campus is doing necessary work, which includes targeted harassment of faculty members who you and the AAUP disagree with for ideological reasons. Clearly, according to you and the AAUP, academic freedom is only worth defending for people who share your ideological views.

            I’m glad we’re at least being honest now about what’s going on.

      • “I know firsthand that such small groups simply cannot afford the legal expertise required to make their transactions less transparent.”

        Indeed. Can you see that such legislation discriminates against small groups? Now imagine how it feels to try to compete against a company as large as Koch Industries, being subjected to the same legislation as them. That’s why it’s better to not regulate these industries by government, but instead to regulate them by their competitors and their customers. Small companies are more efficient, more nimble, and (without being protected by government legislation) more profitable. Small is beautiful.

  3. As I am a GMU Econ PhD, you may not be surprised when I decline to join the UnKoch My Campus bandwagon. (And, specifically, I was Koch-group supported while a student and have been indirectly a beneficiary after graduating.)

    On the other hand, I am surprised to realize that anyone connected with UKMC at or interested in GMU does not know that the Charles Koch Foundation has been posting their major grant agreements online for at least the last two or three years. All I’m saying is that while the GMU administration may be reticent to open up all of its agreements, the Koch Foundation has already taken that step.

    Admittedly “Transparent GMU” would have an interest in the Provost’s position broader than the views of UKMC, that is at least if Transparent GMU are interested in Koch-related transparency and not just in depriving Koch-affiliated faculty and students of their support.

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