Progressive Calendar 09.22.13 /3
From: David Shove (
Date: Mon, 22 Sep 2014 09:16:03 -0700 (PDT)

1. Oil/gas frack film      9.22 7pm.

2. Anti-Frac Sand Vigil  9.23 5pm

3. Socialism                 9.23 7pm

4. Chris Hedges -  The Coming Climate Revolt

5. Roshan Bliss -  Koch Brothers, ALEC Threaten Campus Democracy at FSU, US

6. ed                -  chant/bumpersticker

--------1 of x--------

Oil/gas frack film 9.22 7pm.

“Split Estate—A film about Oil & Gas Fracking,” produced & directed by
Debra Anderson.  What you don’t know can’t hurt you!  Sponsored by 3CTC,
Contact Christine Frank. Monday, Sept 22, 7:00 PM.

Mayday Bookstore, Cedar & Washington Av West Bank Mpls.

--------2 of x--------

 Anti-Frac Sand Vigil  9.23 5pm

Tuesday, September 23, 5:00 p.m. Radisson Hotel, 35 South 7th Street,
A British mineral extraction intelligence company called Industrial
Minerals is hosting its second annual "Frac Sands Conference" on September
23-24 in downtown Minneapolis. Join others for an Anti-Frac Sand Vigil
outside the conference to bear witness to the broken landscapes, lives, and
communities left in the wake of this extractive and violent fossil fuel
boom. Stand with us as we mourn the scarring of beloved and fertile
farmland, and as we grapple with the inherent social injustice of climate
change catastrophes. Join with us as we attempt to challenge, educate, and
engage in dialogue with both those attending the conference and the larger
Minneapolis community. Sponsored by: the Mennonite Worker and the
Minneapolis Catholic Worker (the Rye House). FFI: Call 608-386-050

--------3 of x--------

9.23 Socialism 7pm
Join Socialist Alternative at the University of Minnesota with
international speaker Dave Reid to discuss a world in crisis and the fast
growing socialist movement in the country.

WHEN: Tuesday, 9-23-14 at 7:00pm
WHERE: University MN, Coffman room 325
-Dave Reid, leading organizer with the Socialist Party of England and Wales

-Kelly Bellin, U of M Alumni and National Treasurer for Socialist
>From the brutal war in Gaza to the unrestrained police violence in Ferguson
to growing inequality, crisis after crisis is happening in the world and it
seems like there's no end in sight.

But it doesn't have to be this way. The Gaza and Ferguson protests and the
victory of a $15/hr minimum wage movement in Seattle led by Socialist
Alternative City Council member Kshama Sawant are examples of the growing
number of young people, people of color and working-class people fighting
for a better world.

People increasingly see that global capitalism cannot meet the needs of 99%
of people and the environment. But is it sufficient regulate corporations
and reform capitalism? Is democratic socialism a realistic alternative?
Come join this important discussion with Socialist Alternative- the first
organization to elect a Socialist to a major city in many decades, and
consider joining the struggle for a new socialist world.

--------4 of x--------

The Coming Climate Revolt   byChris Hedges

Chris Hedges made these remarks Saturday at a panel discussion in New York
City titled “The Climate Crisis: Which Way Out?” The other panelists were
Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, Kshama Sawant and Sen. Bernie Sanders. The
event, moderated by Brian Lehrer, occurred on the eve of the People’s
Climate March in New York City. For a video of some of what the panelists
said, click here.

We have undergone a transformation during the last few decades—what John
Ralston Saul calls a corporate coup d’état in slow motion. We are no longer
a capitalist democracy endowed with a functioning liberal class that once
made piecemeal and incremental reform possible. Liberals in the old
Democratic Party such as the senators Gaylord Nelson, Birch Bayh and George
McGovern—who worked with Ralph Nader to make the Clean Air Act, the Clean
Water Act, the Mine Safety and Health Act, the Freedom of Information Act
and the OSHA law, who made common cause with labor unions to protect
workers, who stood up to the arms industry and a bloated military—no longer
exist within the Democratic Party, as Nader has been lamenting for several
years. They were pushed out as corporate donors began to transform the
political landscape with the election of Ronald Reagan. And this is why the
Democrats have not, as Bill Curry points out, enacted any major social or
economic reforms since the historic environmental laws of the early ’70s.

We are governed, rather, by a species of corporate totalitarianism, or what
the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin describes as “inverted
totalitarianism.” By this Wolin means a system where corporate power, while
it purports to pay fealty to electoral politics, the Constitution, the
three branches of government and a free press, along with the iconography
and language of American patriotism, has in fact seized all the important
levers of power to render the citizen impotent.

The old liberal class, the safety valve that addressed grievances and
injustices in times of economic or political distress, has been neutered.
There are self-identified liberals, including Barack Obama, who continue to
speak in the old language of liberalism but serve corporate power. This has
been true since the Clinton administration. Bill Clinton found that by
doing corporate bidding he could get corporate money—thus NAFTA, the
destruction of our welfare system, the explosion of mass incarceration
under the [1994] omnibus bill, the deregulation of the FCC, turning the
airwaves over to a half dozen corporations, and the revoking of FDR’s 1933
Glass-Steagall reform that had protected our banking system from
speculators. Clinton, in exchange for corporate money, transformed the
Democratic Party into the Republican Party. This was diabolically
brilliant. It forced the Republican Party to shift so far to the right it
became insane.

By the time Clinton was done the rhetoric of self-professed liberals was a
public relations game. This is why there is continuity from the Bush
administration to the Obama administration. Obama’s election did nothing to
halt the expanding assault on civil liberties—in fact Obama’s assault has
been worse—the Bush bailouts of big banks, the endless imperial wars, the
failure to regulate Wall Street, the hiring of corporate lobbyists to write
legislation and serve in top government positions, the explosion of
drilling and fracking, the security and surveillance state as well as the
persecution of government whistle-blowers.

This audience is well aware of the Democratic Party’s squalid record on the
environment, laid out in detail in a new Greenpeace report written by
Charlie Cray and Peter Montague, titled “The Kingpins of Carbon and Their
War on Democracy.” The report chronicles what it calls “a multi-decade war
on democracy by the kingpins of carbon—the coal, the oil, and gas
industries allied with a handful of self-interested libertarian

The Obama administration, in return for financial support from these
kingpins of carbon, has cynically undermined international climate
treaties, a fact we discovered only because of the revelations provided by
Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks. It uses its intelligence agencies, these
revelations revealed, to spy on those carrying out climate negotiations to
thwart caps on carbon emissions and push through useless, nonbinding
agreements. The Obama administration has overseen a massive expansion of
fracking. It is pushing through a series of trade agreements such as the
TPP and the TAFTA that will increase fracking along with expanding our
exports of coal, oil and gas. It authorized the excavation of tar sands in
Utah and Alabama. It approved the southern half of the Keystone pipeline.
It has permitted seismic testing for offshore drilling in the Gulf of
Mexico, the East Coast and in parts of Alaska, a process that kills off
hundreds of sea mammals. It authorized drilling within four miles of the
Florida coastline, violating one of Obama’s 2008 campaign promises. This
expansion of offshore drilling reversed 20 years of federal policy.

If we appeal to self-identified liberals in the establishment who have no
capacity or desire to carry out the radical reforms, we will pour energy
into a black hole. And this is what the corporate state seeks. It seeks to
perpetuate the facade of democracy. It seeks to make us believe what is no
longer real, that if we work within the system we can reform it. And it has
put in place a terrifying superstructure to silence all who step outside
the narrow parameters it defines as acceptable.

The Democratic Party speaks to us “rationally.” The party says it seeks to
protect civil liberties, regulate Wall Street, is concerned about the
plight of the working class and wants to institute reforms to address
climate change. But in all these areas, and many more, it has, like its
Republican counterpart, repeatedly sold out the citizenry for corporate
power and corporate profits—in much the same manner that Big Green
environmental groups such as the Climate Group and the Environmental
Defense Fund have sold out the environmental movement.

To assume that Obama, or the Democratic Party, because they acknowledge the
reality of climate change, while the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party
does not, is better equipped to deal with the crisis is incorrect.
Republicans appeal to one constituency. The Democrats appeal to another.
But both parties will do nothing to halt the ravaging of the planet.

If Wolin is right, and I believe he is, then when we begin to build mass
movements that carry out repeated acts of civil disobedience, as I think
everyone on this panel believes we must do, the corporate state, including
the Democratic Party, will react the way all calcified states react.  It
will use the security and surveillance apparatus, militarized police
forces—and, under Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act,
the military itself—to shut down all dissent with force. The legal and
organizational mechanisms are now in place to, with the flip of a switch,
put the nation effectively under martial law. When acts of mass civil
disobedience begin on Monday morning with Flood Wall Street and later with
Occupy the U.N., the face of the corporate state will, as it did during the
Occupy movement, reveal itself.

If the response of the corporate state is repression rather than reform
then our strategy and our tactics must be different. We will have to cease
our appealing to the system. We will have to view the state, including the
Democratic Party, as antagonistic to genuine reform. We will have to speak
in the language of ... revolution. We will have to carry out acts of civil
disobedience that seek to cripple the mechanisms of corporate power. The
corporate elites, blinded by their lust for profit and foolish enough to
believe they can protect themselves from climate change, will not veer from
our path towards ecocide unless they are forced from power. And this means
the beginning of a titanic clash between our corporate masters and

© 2014 TruthDig

Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Hedges graduated
from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign
correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books,
including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should
Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on
America.  His most recent book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy
and the Triumph of Spectacle.

--------5 of x--------

Koch Brothers, ALEC Threaten Campus Democracy at FSU, US Universities

Faculty & alumni threaten to resign and boycott donating to the university
if John Thrasher is selected

by Roshan Bliss / September 19th, 2014

Florida State University is poised to appoint former ALEC Legislator of the
Year John Thrasher as new president after “sham” presidential search and
Koch funding scandal.

For months now, a battle has been raging at Florida State University to
stop what student and faculty say is “[a] hostile political takeover of the
presidential search process at FSU.”

Students, faculty, alumni, and the Tallahassee community have mounted a
campaign of protests, disruptions, petitions, letters, and a proposal for a
reset of the process in response to the increasingly clear reality that
FSU’s Presidential Search Advisory Committee (PSAC) has been rigged to
select former Florida Republican Senator John Thrasher, described as “one
of the most powerful Republican politicians in Florida history,” as FSU’s
next president.

The FSU community has been staunchly opposing Thrasher’s candidacy for
president because he is, by almost all standards normally applied to
university presidents, a terrible candidate for the job.

Whereas university presidents are almost always required to have a Ph.D.,
Thrasher lacks real academic credentials. As a legislator, Thrasher has
opposed institutions that are essential to higher education like faculty
unions and tenure, was caught violating ethics laws twice in the Florida
House of Representatives, has voted several times to cut Florida’s
higher-education budget, and he himself sponsored a failed bill that would
have made exactly this kind of legislature-to-university transition illegal
for him to make. Thrasher also is currently serving as chair for the
reelection campaign of Florida Gov. Rick Scott – who appointed FSU Board of
Trustees Chair Allan Bense (and others), who in turn has handpicked much of
the search committee’s members. And to top it all off, Thrasher was
recognized in 1998 as Legislator of the Year by the infamously
anti-democratic, pay-to-play legislation mill for corporations known as the
American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and has continued to have ties
with the democracy-corrupting organization.

Thrasher’s candidacy has been consistently, loudly, and unanimously opposed
by the students and faculty on the PSAC and across campus since the search
began back in May. Yet he is being interviewed as one of four finalists in
the search, and many in Florida believe that he is very likely to be the
next president of FSU anyway.

Presidential search process “a sham”, student & faculty dissent silenced

When former Florida State University president Eric Barron announced that
he was stepping down to take a job at Pennsylvania State University earlier
this year, FSU began the process of finding his replacement by having FSU’s
Board of Trustees Chair Allan Bense establish the PSAC and appointing its
members. The number of PSAC appointees has bloated from 19 in the search
that selected Barron to 27 in the current search. Yet despite the growth,
students and faculty – the primary stakeholders in the university – hold
only one third of the seats on the committee. The rest are held by what
students and faculty have called “political appointees” who have looser
ties to the university and include several former politicians and Rick
Scott appointees.

“The corporate/political influence on Bense’s PSAC is blatant and
unapologetic,” say members of the FSU Progress Coalition, a bloc of
students, faculty, and campus organizations opposed to Thrasher’s candidacy
and the current search process. Their research has documented that not only
do conflicts of interest abound among the PSAC appointees who have been
favoring Thrasher, but several of them are connected to not only ALEC, but
also have ties to Charles and David Koch, the billionaire bankrollers of
many conservative causes, think tanks, and organizations that advocate for
their far-right positions.

“Many members [of the PSAC] have direct connections to the controversial
corporate-legislative partnership ALEC and Koch-funded institutes,”
Progress Coalition students wrote in an August op ed in the Tallahassee
Democrat.” In fact, ALEC and Koch affiliates have more representation on
Bense’s PSAC than either faculty or students.

Case in point, they say, is Bense himself. “Chair Bense himself is the
Chair of the Board of Directors of a Koch funded think tank – the James
Madison Institute (JMI).  JMI is also a member of ALEC’s Education Task
Force,” the body within ALEC that conspires to pass policies across the
country that treat education as a business more than a public good.

With Bense’s appointments, the “outside” members of the PSAC constitute a
17-member “super majority” on the committee is capable of voting down even
unanimous opposition from the students and faculty. And it has done just
that every time the students and faculty on the PSAC have tried oppose
Thrasher’s advancement as a candidate.

The first occasion was on May 21st. At the suggestion of the William Funk &
Associates search firm the PSAC hired to assist with the search – the same
firm that “helped” Purdue University select former Indiana Governor Mitch
Daniels as its president, despite similar conflicts of interest and
impropriety – there was a motion to consider Thrasher as the only candidate
for the presidency.

“Funk advised the committee to vet only Senator John Thrasher as a
candidate for the position,” FSU faculty member Dr. Jennifer Proffitt
explained in an op ed. “This, he argued, would allow for a more level
playing field–if the committee votes for him to be president, the search
would be over; if the committee votes no, then other candidates may apply.”

The move was obviously political, Proffitt continued. “[I]t clearly
demonstrated Florida political cronyism as the motion to interview Thrasher
was made by a former President of the Senate, seconded by a former state
senator and current FSU lobbyist, and supported in debate by Bense, former
Speaker of the House… This is Florida politics, pure and simple.”

The motion to fast-track Thrasher as the only candidate for the presidency
passed 15-9 in the PSAC, despite the unanimous “no” vote of all the
students and faculty.

Emails between William Funk, the head of the search firm, and top FSU
administrators later revealed that Thrasher had communicated his interest
in the position through back channels, prompting Funk to suggest him as the
lone candidate. Even Funk admitted that to continue to pretend to actually
be considering other candidates in the search after the fast-track vote
“would now be a sham… and would be roundly seen as such.”

Search reopened, students and faculty demand restructure

The initial effort to fast-track Thrasher as the sole candidate failed,
however, after the FSU Faculty Senate formally voted “no confidence” in the
Funk search firm, saying that Funk “appears to be following an agenda which
is not committed to an open and honest search for the best candidates.”

Days later, Funk & Associates bowed out of the search process, the search
was reopened, and a new application date was set for September 2nd.

As news spread about the failed fast-track proposal, students and faculty
were outraged. The flagrantly inappropriate strong arm tactic touched off
broad efforts across the campus supporting a push to “Reset the Search”
because it had become clear that the process was “illegitimate” and stacked
in favor of “outside” interests, whereas real democracy called for the
students and faculty to be the ones with the most say in who their next
president would be.

“It’s great if outsiders want to help select the next president,” said
Jerry Funt, co-president of the FSU Progress Coalition. “But inside
stakeholders should have a lot more say.”

Within weeks after the failed fast-track, students, faculty, and community
members had created a petition, which gained nearly 1,500
signatures, a #ResetTheSearch hashtag, and a Student Plan calling on FSU
and Chair Bense to restructure  the PSAC to include fairer representation:
one third students, one third faculty, and one third other “appropriately
interested community members.” FSU’s Student Senate and Congress of
Graduate Students (COGS) both passed resolutions supporting the call for
the restructure as well.

Ultimately, the movement on FSU’s campus has been about democracy. “We
believe that without representation in votes the student and faculty voice
has been squelched,” FSU Progress Coalition student activists Ralph Wilson
and Lakey (her full legal name) explained. “Therefore, we demand a PSAC
restructure that includes one third student and one third faculty.”

It seems utterly reasonable that the people directly impacted by the
presidential decision would be the ones who have the lion’s share of
influence on the question. But Chair Bense and the PSAC think differently.

Despite the fast-track debacle, the search process continued, with other,
more qualified candidates eventually applying for the FSU presidency.
Thrasher, who formally applied this time, was included.

Koch-FSU funding contracts create deeper corruption worries, doubts about
academic freedom

Even before the presidential search scandal, FSU administrators had already
been embedding political relationships into the university’s supposedly
academic functions. A key piece of FSU history has fueled student and
faculty suspicions that impropriety at the university was more widespread :
its funding relationship with the Charles Koch Foundation (CKF).

The relationship began in 2008, when FSU’s economics department agreed to
receive $1.5 million from the CKF – with strings attached. The donation
would only be made if the department could ensure Koch representatives that
it would be used for conservative academic courses and that the CKF’s
representatives would have final say over which professors would be hired
by the department. The deal would allow them to bend the department’s
intellectual focus toward that of the pro-market, anti-government values
the Kochs themselves hold – a move that is an affront to the university’s
academic credibility.

“It amounts to the Koch brothers’ foundation basically trying to buy a
position on the faculty.” Association of American University Professors
(AAUP) president Rudy Fichtenbaum said of the deal.  “And that certainly is
a threat to academic freedom.”

The details of the agreement were circulated in an internal memo penned by
economics department head Dr. Bruce Benson, who, as another one of Koch’s
conditions of the agreement, would be required to remain the head of the
economics department for three more years, despite the fact that Benson had
already stated that he would retire soon.

Many of Benson’s statements in the memo are telling of just how well he
understood the inappropriate amount of influence the Kochs were exercising.
“As we all know, there are no free lunches. Everything comes with costs,”
Benson wrote in the memo. “Koch cannot tell a university who to hire, but
they are going to try to make sure, through contractual terms and
monitoring, that people hired are consistent with ‘donor intent.'”

Despite being called a “two-fold conflict of interest” by the FSU Faculty
Senate and serious concerns that it would compromise academic freedom, the
questionable contract giving the CKF influence over economics faculty
hiring and curriculum was signed.

The contract was quietly renewed as one of the last acts of outgoing FSU
president Eric Barron last year, though that administration claims it
included “amendments” that were supposed to remove the inappropriate
influence that the original agreement gave to the Koch brothers.

“But the changes to the hiring in the new agreement give the Koch brothers
just as much, if not more, power over hiring as they had in the first
agreement,” the FSU Progress Coalition’s Funt told NPR. “Nothing has been
improved. The agreement is still bad. It’s still harming academic integrity
at FSU and giving private donors inappropriate access.”

The new agreement reduced the number of Koch’s representatives in the
process and no longer gave them the final decision about whether to hire a
professor or not.  But it stipulated that Koch representatives would get to
decide on whether or not professors could be paid from the pot of Koch
money, which essentially guarantees that the cash-strapped FSU — hobbled by
years of large budget cuts from the state legislature, many of which were
supported by then Senator Thrasher — would not hire a professor it could
not afford to pay, and thus would only hire professors it knew would be
acceptable to the Koch Foundation.

Even Benson, the economics chair, seemed to admit that the contract was
less about academics than it was about political games. “I wish that
universities were free of political manipulation,” Benson wrote in the
memo. “Unfortunately, the reality is that we live and work in an
environment that is subject to all sorts of political manipulations.”

ALEC-supported bill bans Koch funding transparency

Not only has the administration’s commitment to academic freedom come into
question, but the university’s transparency has become an issue as well.
When asked to disclose details of their agreements with the Koch’s, the
administration has been slow to do so. It took over a year for the
agreement with the economics department to be made public.

Equally troubling is the suspicious coincidence that in the same year that
the FSU-Koch agreement was renewed, the Florida legislature passed SB 318,
a law that bans the public from of all meetings between universities and
their private funders where “research funding” arrangements like the one
with the CKF were discussed. Counter intuitively, the bill even bans public
participation when private groups are “providing a statement of public
necessity” for their projects.

Labeled the “Koch Cover-Up Law” by FSU student activists, the bill was
supported by a number of Florida ALEC legislators.

“Predictably,” the student coalition wrote in an op ed in the Tallahassee
Democrat, “[the bill] was sponsored by legislators who champion the
Koch-funded organizations American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and
Americans for Prosperity.”

Students and Faculty testified against the bill in a Senate Committee
chaired by then-Senator Thrasher himself, to no avail. Thrasher voted for
the bill.

In addition to the presidential search’s clear bias, FSU students and
faculty are deeply concerned that, now that the Koch Cover-Up Law has
passed, Thrasher would have both the incentive and the ability to expand
Koch’s growing and corrupting influence over university policy, curriculum,
and hiring far beyond the economics department if he becomes the next
president. “President” Thrasher would be poised to make decisions to give
Koch- and ALEC-connected friends access to the entire university.

Thrasher advances as restructure motion defeated

The pressure to restructure the Presidential Search Advisory Committee
continued throughout the summer, with a national petition calling on FSU
and Chair Bense to support the restructuring plan gaining 2,600 signatures,
shining a spotlight on the university’s cronyism and compromised integrity.
The student plan for restructure — which was supported by the faculty
senate, student government, multiple student groups on campus — continued
to attempt to restore some semblance of legitimacy to a process that has
seemed rigged from the start to select Thrasher.

A key August 26th meeting of the FSU Board of Trustees was the last moment
that Chair Bense could respond to the Student Plan and restructure the
committee. But in the week before the meeting, Bense dodged the decision by
quietly cancelling the Board meeting, meaning that the restructure question
would be left unanswered before the next September 5th PSAC meeting, where
the field of eleven applicants would be narrowed to four finalists.

The student and faculty resistance to electing Thrasher continued in that
meeting, when the PSAC student and faculty representatives proposed and
unanimously supported a motion to simply remove Thrasher from the list of
candidates being considered to make room for other, more academically
qualified candidates, including the well-liked current interim FSU
president, Garnett Stokes. But once again, the students’ and faculty’s
motion was shut down by the PSAC’s corporate super majority.

The September 5th meeting erupted. Students and faculty disrupted the
proceedings in protest of the defeat of a motion to exclude Thrasher from
the final set of candidates. Several were removed by police, with several
more threatened with arrest or expulsion for continuing to vocalize their
support for removing Thrasher.

The students and faculty removed were attempting to read aloud their
proposal to restructure the PSAC and decrying the university’s failures in
transparency and integrity, saying that the search process demonstrated a
“total disregard for process, democracy, transparency and the integrity of
FSU’s [Presidential Search Advisory Committee].”

The meeting was shut down for over an hour, but when it resumed, the PSAC
proceeded to advance Thrasher to the next round of interviews, and despite
calls from all corners of the campus to pick anyone but him, Thrasher has
advanced to the final round of four candidates. The committee also removed
the current interim FSU president Garnett Stokes from consideration, a move
that outraged students and faculty even more because they saw Stokes as an
excellent candidate.

The three other candidates Thrasher is competing with are former university
leaders and faculty from across the country who, unlike Thrasher, have the
requisite academic credentials and experience in higher education
leadership. Yet Thrasher remains the likely nominee.

Faculty and alumni threaten consequences, make Thrasher unwelcome

In response to the continued politicization and corruption of the search
process and the undemocratic exclusion of student and faculty voices, the
FSU community has started raising the stakes. A series of faculty and
alumni have spoken out, saying that if Thrasher wins, they will take action
against the university.

One professor wrote in an email that the consideration of Thrasher had them
“ready to leave FSU for good, after two decades here. And,” the faculty
member added, “I plan on taking my grant money, post docs, lab and graduate
students with me.”

Another faculty member remarked that “I have always remained faithful to
FSU. I will, however, quit immediately if Mr. Thrasher is chosen.

A series of alumni have spoken out as well, threatening to withhold
donations to the university if Thrasher is selected. One alumni said, “I
believe it was a grave mistake to eliminate Provost Stokes [current interim
FSU president] from consideration, however the Presidency must now go to a
qualified academic individual (read, one with a PhD, not a corporate minded

In spite of consistent opposition, Thrasher came to campus on Monday for
interviews with students, faculty, and staff where he was met with protests
and faced with tough questions.

In his interview with university faculty, he was asked if he believed in
evolution or climate change. Thrasher dodged both questions, saying he has
“a great faith that guides his work.” The non-answer gave credence to the
idea that Thrasher would use his position to advance climate change denial,
a key agenda of the Koch brothers’ influence at universities.

Thrasher became visibly upset and even threatened to walk out of the
interview when audience members laughed at his response to the question.

Importantly, students exposed Thrasher’s ties to the Koch brothers during
his interview with them, asking him whether he had ever accepted Koch
brothers’ funding and how he could protect the university from corruption.
Thrasher lied in his response, saying he has never accepted money from Koch
Industries – a claim students quickly proved was not true.

Students also asked if he would pledge to not sign future agreements with
Koch brothers – he again dodged the question.

In contrast, the other three more academically qualified candidates
provided clear answers to questions and appeared to be much more
comfortable during their interviews.

With on-campus interviews complete, the PSAC will meet on Monday, the 22nd
to eliminate one candidate of the four, and recommend the final three to
the FSU Board of Trustees for their final selection. Given the many
connections Thrasher has on the Board and the way the PSAC has taken pains
to keep his candidacy alive, Thrasher is still widely expected to be the
Board’s pick for FSU president.

On US campuses, democracy is in decline, corporatism is on the rise

The process unfolding at FSU looks troublingly similar to much of American
politics today: decision makers support outcomes or agendas favoring the
rich and well-connected despite broad public opposition, well-publicized
conflicts of interests, and with disregard to legitimate requests for
redress of grievances voiced by those affected in processes that seem
rigged from the start.

And it’s not just in Florida. “We believe that FSU is one example in a
national crisis,” the FSU Progress Coalition students wrote earlier this

They are right.

The FSU situation is reflective of a broader national trend in recent years
that has seen powerful politicians appointed by questionable processes to
head prestigious universities – despite lacking the qualifications normally
required of university presidents and clear conflicts of interests.

FSU’s connections with the Koch brothers’ influence is also part and parcel
of rise in “charitable” contributions that they have been using to gain
control over ideas and curricula in US colleges and universities.

The FSU Progress Coalition students’ research documents that “the Charles
Koch Foundation is already funding over 300 universities in the United
States today and the numbers continue to increase.” Anyone seeing this
trend has to ask, they say, “How many of those universities have already
been corrupted by Koch contracts? How many presidents have already been
bought and sold?”

It’s part of the disturbing reality that American higher education has been
progressively shedding even the semblance of democracy it used to have in
favor of an increasingly corporate style of governance where money and
influence trump academic integrity and openness. The rise of this corporate
higher education model – complete with questionable funding and political
appointees – does not bode well for democracy at US universities or, in
turn, for the US as a whole.

Over the last few decades we have seen the discourse about the purpose of
higher education shift from a narrative about education as a public good
that brings broad benefits to society – which it does – toward one that
says going to college is an individual good that is necessary solely so
that young people can land a high-paying job after graduation.

We do, of course, want to see that university graduates, as well as their
uncredentialed peers, are eventually able to find security in a good job.
But more than that, we also want – indeed, we need – to see those same
young people prepared by the end of their education for more than a job. We
need them to be ready to be an effective citizen in a democracy.
Citizenship is its own type of work, but like most work, it is not an
innate skill set. We need to learn how to do it.

Since its inception, public education has been tasked with teaching each
new generation how to be effective citizens, because educated citizens are
critical to a well-functioning democracy. And higher education, with its
values of the intellectual freedom and spirit of fair and reasoned debate,
has been the capstone lesson in that civic education.

Baby Boomers learned the lessons of democracy well during the ’60s and ’70s
when American college campuses were hot beds of political activity, centers
of social movements, and places where ideals of democracy were consistently
lifted up as guiding principles for how the university should function.

But in today’s more anti-democratic, neoliberalized university, with
campuses much less open than in the past and students much more
demobilized, there is increasingly no place for those kinds of positive
civic lessons. In fact, the lessons taught by corrupted processes like the
one at FSU are quite the opposite.

The growing trend of universities being corporate-funded and hostile to
democratic influence is teaching the Millennial generation a very different
lesson: democracy is just window dressing because in reality, cash rules.

With the influence of the Koch brothers and ALEC written all over the
search process, the economics department agreement, and possibly much more
of the campus if Thrasher is elected president, no campus appears to be
teaching that lesson better today than Florida State University.

Bigger than FSU

The FSU students’ and teachers’ fight against the corrupted search process
is about more than just the next president of one university. It’s about
whether American universities will continue to be places where another
generation of young people will learn to be engaged, responsible, critical
citizens, or if they will be seen more and more as only potential employees.

The lesson that FSU will ultimately teach through its presidential search
process – that democracy and integrity matter, on the one hand, or that
cash and connections are what matters on the other – is not yet clear.

If Thrasher is given the FSU presidency, despite the students and faculty
being united against him, it will prop the door open at other universities
for similar “hostile takeovers” of their governance. The beginning of
Thrasher’s tenure as president would mark the end of campus democracy at
FSU. And we should all beware what that means for our broader democracy
down the line.

But there is still time to change the story at FSU. The Board of Trustees
still has time to come to its senses, to finally hear what the students and
faculty it ostensibly serves have been saying all along, and to select
another candidate. It would be a huge win for democracy at FSU, but it
could also possibly be the beginning of a reversal in the trend of American
universities toward corporate-funded and political, rather than academic,

The history of US higher education is on the line at FSU, and the students
and faculty have fought hard to keep that history one of integrity,
academic freedom, and democracy. They have done just about all they could
do, and now the decision of how to bend the arc of that history lies in the
hands of FSU’s Board of Trustees.

The FSU Board is set to issue its decision on FSU’s next president on the
23rd of this month. And the nation will be watching.

Roshan Bliss is a student organizer, inclusivity and anti-oppression
trainer, and democratic process specialist with a passion for empowering
young people to defend their futures and democratize their schools. Bliss,
a former occupy activist, serves as Assistant Secretary of Education for
Higher Education for the Green Shadow Cabinet. Read other articles by
nd is filed under Ac

This article was posted on Friday, September 19th, 2014

--------6 of x--------



*    FRACK    FRACK          FRACK THE KOCHS !*




                     Shove Trove
  • (no other messages in thread)

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.