EDUCATION, PETITIONS — BY JOSH SAGER ON MAY 10, 2012 1:17 PM
Sign the Petition: http://forcechange.com/20654/tell-florida-state-university-to-reject-donations-that-compromise-academic-objectivity/
Target: FSU Board of Trustees
Goal: To ask the Board of Trustees at Florida State University to put academic integrity over money by rejecting all donations which compromise academic objectivity.
Universities may be institutes of learning and research, but they also require significant funding to operate. In the current climate of austerity, state schools are having their budgets cut, thus are in desperate need for money. This need for money has made some universities susceptible to the lure of money from donors who require conditions in exchange for their donation.
In the past few years, Florida State University received large ($6.5 million over a period of years) donations from the libertarian oil magnate Charles Koch. Donations to universities are not unusual, as many wealthy people donate money to higher education out of a sense of charity or a desire to support a specific type of research. Unfortunately, the donation to FSU from Charles Koch came with several strings attached. The largest and most important string attached to this money is that Koch has the ability to screen all economics department appointees.
By signing over a portion of their hiring power to an ideological individual, the FSU economics department has severely compromised their academic integrity. By allowing a partisan individual to control their hiring, FSU has lost much of its academic objectivity. Koch is a well-known libertarian activist and is likely to attempt to stack the FSU economics department with individuals who are ideologically in line with him. This shift from objective academics to partisan cronyism is a worrying phenomenon and should not be accepted by the administrators of the university.
This petition is directed at the FSU Board of Trustees and is intended to convince them to choose the preservation of their school’s academic integrity over the lure of monetary donations. The school must reject money from any group, regardless of its beliefs, that requires a forfeiture of academic freedom or a say in the hiring of faculty.
Dear Florida State University Board of Trustees,
Florida State University is a vital institution of higher learning for the citizens of the state of Florida. Every year, thousands of students attend your school in order to receive a good quality and affordable college education. Unfortunately, funding cuts from the state have required your university to make some hard choices.
In the face of your funding problems, the economics department at your university made a truly unfortunate decision. In exchange for a large donation by the libertarian activist Charles Koch, they gave Koch a great deal of power over faculty hiring inside of the economics department. By letting a donor control a vital function of the university, as well as the tool by which academic objectivity is maintained, the FSU Economics Department has severely compromised itself. Koch will be able to veto any potential faculty hire who disagrees with his ideological viewpoint, thus transforming the FSU Economics Department from a legitimate department of academics to a partisan echo chamber.
Public universities, such as yours, should not allow rich individuals and groups to buy control over their academics, even in the face of funding cuts. Please listen to the signatories of this petition, as well as your Student Senate, when we say that taking money with strings attached is a very bad decision for the university. Reject the ability of Charles Koch to control faculty hiring, and refuse to take any money in the future which has similar strings attached; regardless of whether the donations are taken back or are allowed to stand, you will have chosen academic integrity over money and will have earned respect from all who have signed this petition.
[Your Name Here]