Students for a Sustainable Future, a campus organization, have been looking into Charles and David Koch’s influence on the University.
The Koch brothers have donated $1.4 million to the University’s School of Business since 2001 and the student group has spent the last year looking into any contracts the University may have signed when they agreed to the donation. The group’s main focus is creating transparency when it comes to any donations that may come with restrictions.
The students have filed a Kansas Open Records Act request through the Office of the Provost that asks for all correspondence with the Koch brothers—but the University says the records request will cost the students $1,800 according to an OpEd letter published in the Lawrence Journal-World written by Schuyler Kraus, president of Students for a Sustainable Future.
In response, the students began fundraising. They have received $1,350 so far, with the first thousand being donated by the Kansas chapter of the American Association of University Professors, Kraus said. The group has a live petition at un-kochKU.com where people can donate.
“There should be transparency, this is a public institution that’s existing for the common good,” Kraus said.
Kraus said she started looking into the relationship between the University and the Koch brothers when she noticed how much influence the they had at other universities and wondered what their relationship was with the KU. Once she discovered that the Kochs donated to the University, she started investigating what kind of stipulations, if any, came with the donations.
Kraus hopes to eventually create an online database that publishes any restrictions that a donor requests when they donate money to the University so students, parents, faculty and taxpayers can see.
“This isn’t really about the Kochs specifically, they’re just an example,” Kraus said. “It’s the system that needs to change, not necessarily the donors, it’s just their influence.”
—Edited by Rob Pyatt