FSU students challenge school’s Koch agreement

By | 01.26.12 | 11:32 am

The Koch Industries logo (Pic via suraen.files.wordpress.com)

The Charles G. Koch Foundation has come under fire for its involvement in hiring at Florida State University, and although the school has defended itself against accusations that it accepted Koch funding in exchange for allowing the group to hire certain staff members, FSU students continue to challenge the arrangement.

Last May, the St. Petersburg Times reported that the Koch Foundation had pledged $1.5 million for positions in Florida State University’s economics department. “In return,” wrote Times reporter Kris Hundley, Koch representatives “get to screen and sign off on any hires for a new program promoting ‘political economy and free enterprise.’” In total, FSU received a pledge of $6.5 million over the course of six years from the Koch Foundation.

FSU President Eric Barron defended the school in an op-ed run by the Times, saying that claims that the school is sacrificing academic freedom for the Koch donations are “far off the mark.” Following an ad-hoc committee investigation last summer, Barron ruled that the Koch’s “Memorandum of Understanding” did not impact the integrity of the school.

The foundation has given more than $14.39 million in grants to universities like Florida State, Auburn, Clemson, West Virginia and Utah State.

The FSU Student Senate is now introducing a resolution against the Kochs’ “undue influence on academics as established by the current agreement between the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and the FSU Economics department.”

In their words, “no public institution should accept funding that is conditional upon a willingness to fulfill  or conform to a private entity’s ideological goals.”

The group is demanding that a copy of the resolution be sent to the Koch Foundation. The campaign against the FSU-Koch agreement is organized in part by Progress Florida and Florida Watch Action.

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