The president of City University of New York’s John Jay College announced they will no longer solicit donations or accept any help from the Koch Brothers, after activist faculty have decried the Koch brother’s politically conservative and libertarian political advocacy.
20 activist faculty at John Jay formed a group called “Koch Concerns Coalition”, the NY Post reported.
John Jay University had maintained a positive relationship with the Koch Brothers in the past. In 2016, a university donation pamphlet listed both the Charles Koch Foundation, as giving between $50,000 and $100,000, in addition to the nonprofit Charles Koch Institute, listed as contributing between $10,000 and $25,000. Mark Holden, the Koch Industries general counsel called the president of John Jay university Karol Mason “his friend”, at the “Smart on Crime” conference held at John Jay Hall a few years ago.
Charles and David Koch, who control Koch industries, the second largest privately held company in the United States, have long been ideological enemies to those on the political left. For decades the Koch brothers have advocated and financially contributed towards free market leaning politicians, think tanks and other groups. The Koch brothers have contributed to 34 political and policy organizations in total. They have become political “bogeyman” to those opposing their economic ideals.
Ironically, they have long advocated for more libertarian leaning Republican politicians who are more socially liberal on issues such as abortion, gay marriage and have been advocates of criminal justice reform. The “Smart on Crime” conference which was held at John Jay, brought together political think tanks of both the left and the right to discuss the “overcriminalization” of Americans and such issues as mass incarceration of minorities, “victimless crimes” and reforming drug laws.
The Anti-Koch movement reaches far beyond John Jay College. A nationwide non-profit called “Un-Koch my campus” helps activist students and faculty at universities start campaigns aimed at rejecting any philanthropic assistance from the Koch Brothers non-profit groups and foundations directed towards their university.
The decision to reject any charitable money from the Koch Brothers comes at a time where CUNY schools have serious financial problems. The NY Times reported in 2016 that many CUNY campus suffer from technical problems with elevators, escalators and copy machines that are frequently out of order. Computers and other equipment often do not work in classrooms and wi-fi signals barely function. Also reported were college library budgets being slashed , class sizes drastically increasing , and the hiring of professors slowing down. The Times reported that a class on cardiac rehabilitation, lacked essential materials such as inhalers and carbon dioxide masks.
By: Grant Coleridge