Heroes, or villains in disguise?

In this article titled, George Mason University becomes a favorite of Charles Koch by Matthew Barakat, he talks about the connection between the Koch Brothers and the university. This connections goes back to Richard Fink, who is on the board for Mercatus and HIS (Barakat). This bond between the two has been in motion ever since the early 1970s, causing some suspicion in reference to the overwhelming donations from the Koch Brothers over the years. Even though President Cabrera is in support of these ties and the donations that are given to the school, there are others out there that are very concerned with the academic integrity. The main concern for the school that is addressed within this article is the fact that there is a money gap in some areas of the school. With these donations in play, the money gap gets smaller making the Koch Brothers seem like heroes, when in fact they play a role in which material is learned and how teachers go about in their classroom. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/613470e79eb64a5f9a4880996e0fd7c5/george-mason-university-becomes-favorite-charles-koch


The Students Speak Up

This article in the Huffington Post talks about the students at George Mason University suing the Koch Brothers for access to their records. After finding out what happened in Florida, the accusations pertaining to the actual intentions of the Koch Brothers raised a lot of concerns for the universities connected to any Koch Brothers’ donations. Within the article various students within the Transparent organization gave their thoughts on the subject and how we need to focus on what is really happening. Having the public’s interest at the forefront it is important when this is a public university, so the infringement of private interests disrupts everything. A student a part of Transparent GMU said, “When these donors give money, what do they get in exchange? We want to know what strings are attached. We want to ensure academic integrity in our curriculum,” offering a good point in which we need to look out for. Even if we don’t think the Koch Brothers have an influence on what we are learning, they do because they are such a vital contributor. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/davidhalperin/george-mason-students-sue_b_14660680.html

A Positive Spin on things

While researching the connection between the Koch Brothers and George Mason University, I found an article on Daily Kos titled, “George Mason University President to Charles Koch: “I am nothing but incredibly grateful.” In this article it briefly gives an overview of the Koch Brothers and their many donations to schools across the United States including our very own university in Virginia. Then there’s a transcript of a conversation with President Angel Cabrera on the WAMU Kojo Nnamdi Show. During this conversation there are many tough questions on the influence of the Koch Brothers on the university and the staff. Of course, Cabrera keeps the focus on the positive aspects with the donations given by the Koch Brothers. A former staff employee also joins the conversation at one point in the show and offers the advice of making the Koch Brothers influence more public, instead of so much secrecy. Cabrera also mentions the involvement of the students, such as GMU Transparent, and how he admires their dedication to finding out the hidden knowledge about the Koch Brothers. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/4/9/1376491/-George-Mason-University-President-to-Charles-Koch-I-am-nothing-but-incredibly-grateful

Right beneath our noses

Another aspect I want to include in my part of the presentation is this group on George Mason’s campus called Transparent GMU (https://www.facebook.com/transparentGMU/). On their Facebook page they posted an article about the lawsuit filed against the Koch Brothers by some students at George Mason University. This article is found on WUSA 9, titled, George Mason Univ. in court over Koch donations, by Hilary Lane (http://www.wusa9.com/news/local/george-mason-univ-in-court-over-koch-donations/409577109). The students at George Mason express concern about the influence by the Koch Brothers and how it affects their education as a result. These large sums of money are tied to the donors in some way shape or form and that is concerning, considering what has happened to other universities with the Koch Brothers. This group on campus was formed around the mission statement, “We aim to shed light on the potential undue influence of GMU donors. We are calling on GMU to ensure academic freedom and integrity is upheld.” Although there is evidence about the Koch Brother’s influence on other schools, it is important to know what is happening in our own backyard.

Koch Brothers deterring Mason student

Throughout this process of researching I will be focusing on the community of George Mason University, and how the donors and funding affect them. Throughout these past couple of years there have been considerable donations made to the school funding different departments, such as the economics department. One article that peeked my interest was on DESMOG, titled Koch Controversy at George Mason University: Student Abandons Economics Major, written by Connor Gibson on May 27, 2016 (found at https://www.desmogblog.com/2016/05/27/student-abandons-economics-major-over-koch-controversy-george-mason-university). This source is a blog type source, but I like that it includes some direct quotes from the student who quit the program unlike the Fourth Estate. This student, Mark Hammond decided that he did not want to continue in the economics program here, due to the overwhelming amount of influence from the Koch Brothers. Mark Hammond states, “Despite my interest in economics, I refuse to pay an incredible amount of money to receive a degree that has, when considering the precedent set at other universities, likely been shaped by our school’s highest bidder” (Desmog).  This gives a good example to include in the News Presentation, because it shows the effect it has had on George Mason students.