George Mason Students Get Their Day in Court
In February of this year, a group of students from George Mason University sued their school and its private university foundation over donor agreements with the Charles Koch Foundation.
Between 2005 and 2015, the Koch Foundation has given almost $100,000,000 in donations to GMU — that’s more than their contributions to every other school in their network combined. George Mason is the crowning jewel of the Koch academic network. GMU is home to the Mercatus Center, Koch’s leading anti-regulatory think tank and “talent pipeline” hub.
We have strong reason to believe there are strings attached in the fine print of those donor agreements. However, despite George Mason being a public university, donor agreements with the Koch Foundation have been kept from students, faculty, and Virginia taxpayers. The donations are funneled through GMU’s private foundation, which they claim is not susceptible to open records laws. So the students took action and sued their school to release the documents.
In October, the students finally got their day in court. Thanks to support from people across the country — and even from Canada — we were able to shine a national spotlight on the fight at GMU and why it’s important that we end donor influence there and at every university. You sent in your messages of support, showing how many people are standing on the side of students. The night before their second court date, the students projected your messages on a campus building named after the late James Buchanan, who was key to rise of the Koch network.
Now, we wait to hear what the next stage will be in what presiding judge, Justice John A. Tran, called a “historic case.” In the meantime, we wanted to share some of our favorite messages.
The fight for transparency at George Mason is far from over. But thanks to support from people like you, we have the power to keep going. Make sure to keep up with the campaign by following UnKoch My Campus and Transparent GMU on Facebook and joining our email list!
By: Kyli Wagner - Digital Organizer, UnKoch My Campus
November 2, 2017