MSU, for all it’s “Project 60/50” talk of equality and justice, seems to be hiding some of its ties to the most notorious robber-barons of our era: the Koch brothers. Perhaps most infamously known for their shadowy funneling of millions of dollars into organizations intended to influence the outcome of elections, the Koch brothers are not interested solely in electoral politics. They have a huge stake in Canada’s destructive tar sands industry, money to make off the Keystone XL pipeline, great influence in the climate-change denial movement , an impressive history of attacking unions, and are steadfast supporters of anti-immigration groups.
As if these harmful practices were not enough, the Koch brothers have a new,perhaps even more sinister, hobby: pumping money into higher education in exchange for influence over universities’ decisions. The extent of their influence at Florida State University has already been documented: they have input on faculty hiring and essentially get to write the curriculum. This gives us reason to believe that the Koch brothers’ donations are part of a larger strategy to push their far-right-wing political agenda into academic curriculum.
But what does this have to do with MSU?
The Koch brothers have already given $69,730 to MSU over the past seven years through the “Charles Koch Foundation”, but the information surrounding these donations is kept top secret.
There are substantiated rumors that professors in James Madison College are currently in discussions about accepting another gift. This information was retrieved from an information request from an alumnus of Florida State University that revealed an email thread between a dean at FSU, the dean of James Madison, and the MSU “Executive Director of Constituent Development”. In the email correspondence, it is revealed the the Dean of James Madison is “interested in avoiding certain criticisms”. The Executive Director of Constituent Development then tells the Florida State dean that he and the Dean of JMC will “appreciate your guidance with this Koch opportunity”.
Considering that the corruption at Florida State has already been revealed, and now deans at Michigan State are reaching out to Florida State for advice on how to accept Koch brother money without facing public criticism, it is of the utmost importance that the MSU community finds out the details of the Koch brothers gifts.
Last November, a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request was filed at MSU. The request was for any information, including correspondence and contracts, between MSU and the “Charles Koch Foundation (formerly the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation) and the Charles Koch Institute” at any point from 2004 until present.
Thanks to the generous support of the Graduate Employees Union, the down payment has been made, and the request has been processed. However, because apparently “Freedom of Information” is not totally free, MSU is now requesting another $100.00 to complete the payment.
Whether you are are for environmental justice, immigrants’ rights, the right of working people to organize and unionize, or whether you oppose political billionaires unjustly influencing the academic freedom of the University or even if you support the Koch brothers but want full transparency at MSU, we need your help to uncover the details and strings attached to the Koch brothers’ gifts.
Charles Koch, in 1974, was very clear about his plan to influence the university, saying “We should… [support] only those programs, departments or schools that contribute in some way to our individual companies or to the general welfare of our free enterprise system.” Such flagrant disrespect for the university in an attempt to use the University system to benefit the profits of Koch Industries should not be tolerated anywhere, and especially not at MSU.
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