This is a guest blog post written by Darren, a recent grad who has worked with the organization UnKoch My Campus to fight undue donor influence in academia. You can learn more about UnKoch My Campus at http://www.unkochmycampus.org
Wikipedia defines a snake oil salesman as “someone who knowingly sells fraudulent goods or who is a fraud”. As I speak, individuals are roaming America's countryside proselytizing modern day snake oil. What do Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Kansas, and many other states have in common? A peddler of doubt from Utah State University (USU) has visited to cast a shadow on renewable energy standards for the state.
As a recent USU alum, I love my alma mater and most of the happenings there. However, a cancer has begun to spread and permeate the campus. Undisclosed and undocumented ties have created an unsavory web of untruths that perpetuate logical fallacies and alternative facts.
Awhile back, a childhood friend from Ohio contacted me about a suspicious USU “professor” and a founder of Strata Policy (a Utah based think tank) speaking to legislators about the downfalls of green energy. Never identifying his conflicts of interest (most of his research funding comes from Koch brother front groups) the salesman spoke with loose lips and a curled grin. Branding himself as a scholar, Utah State University's legitimacy was tarnished that day forever.
Academic centers are popping up like carnivals for nostrums talking free-market environmentalism to young folks across America. Institutions of higher education are opening their doors to private interests that will forever harm the integrity of the colleges because pseudo science is being created with this financial giving. There is no such thing as a free lunch!
Young minds like mine are seen as currency for oil barrens and pollution cartels to trade for future favors. Almost ensnared into this pipeline of talent, I quickly found that externalities did not exist in their minds and human suffering does not exist on Earth. Rejecting these lies, I began working to expose the deceit spotted by fake claims and paid scientific outcomes.
Like me, students, staff, alumni, and teachers are fighting undue donor influence on dozens of campuses from groups like the Charles Koch Foundation and its crony capitalist friends. These people are buying the right to make decisions on everything from the hiring of professors to the curriculum taught. With the support of UnKoch My Campus, we have access to the latest primary-source research on the Koch’s investments and activities. We’re a movement that’s growing, ready to take on any challenge that’s thrown our way. We know that ultimately, power doesn’t lie in secret agreements with billionaires, it lies in the hearts of people.
Our institutions of education must uphold ethics above money and facts over fiction. Yes, renewable energy standards have had their growing pains over time, but taxpayers deserve an unbiased view to make discussions. Paid shills with faulty claims should not dictate the decisions for everyday citizens.
Does your school take this laundered money? If so, mandate transparency of undue donor influence and demand contracts be published. A “partnership” with corporations should not damage the purity of an institutions research standards.
From the future.