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Florida Atlantic University has inexplicably chosen to name its football stadium after GEO Group, a private prison firm accused of horrendous human rights abuses.

And what will FAU receive in return? A generous donation of six million dollars over the next twelve years.

The move has outraged students and the wider community, and that outrage is only growing the more people learn about GEO Group, a company which owns an immigrant detention center a mere 10 miles from FAU's campus.

Per the Miami Herald:

Besides the United States, GEO Group also has private prisons in South Africa, the United Kingdom and Australia, where in 2003 it lost a contract after evidence was found that children detained in its facilities suffered cruel treatments, The New York Times reported in 2011. The company, which controls thousands of beds in private prisons and is worth almost $3 billion, is now in the middle of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit about mistreatment of prisoners.
GEO Group's severe mistreatment of prisoners isn't restricted to facilities abroad. In the United States, the Justice Department called one of its youth facilities "among the worst in the nation."

Angus Johnson at Student Activism writes:

[GEO Group] recently ran a youthful offender facility in Mississippi whose “pervasive level of brazen staff sexual misconduct”  was called “among the worst in the nation” by a 2012 Department of Justice investigation.

The Justice Department report on the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility found not only that Walnut Grove management was “deliberately indifferent to staff sexual misconduct,” but also that the facility “often use[d] excessive force as a first response” to disciplinary issues, tolerated active gang membership by facility employees, failed to protect inmates against physical and sexual assault by peers, and was “deliberately indifferent to the suicide risks and serious mental health needs of its youth.”

This is clearly a case of how far an institution of higher learning will allow itself to go in the interest of big-name donors and increased cash flow. It's a case of a university auctioning off part of itself, and a microcosmic example of how sports (and the revenues they bring) are trumping institutional ethics.

In other words: this is a shameful moment. So much so that FAU's administration has ceased talking about the matter as outrage spreads.

However, students are doing anything but remaining quiet, particularly those who know what conditions are like at the detention facility a stone's throw away from campus. A Twitter account – @Owlcatraz1 – has been set up to protest the move, and students are talking publicly:

Noor Fawzy, a political science student at FAU whose parents are Palestinian immigrants, is not so happy with the news.

“The fact that they are locking up people of color and immigrants like my parents is shameful,” said the 22-year-old, who is an elected member of the student government. “We don’t want our university to be associated with an entity that is being investigated for human rights abuses.”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/...



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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (28+ / 0-)

    "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

    by David Harris Gershon on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 05:29:44 PM PST

  •  When Stadium Naming Rights Attack! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rogneid, Kickemout

    Coming soon to TLC. Right after that damn Honey Boo Boo show....

    When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Egalitare on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 05:41:18 PM PST

  •  Well As Societal Support Consistently Trails (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rogneid, eXtina, antirove

    needs, the market is the only other place to turn.

    Conservatism being a punishment-oriented philosophy, it makes sense that university leadership in a conservative state might include people conservative enough to have no trouble with private prison sponsorship.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 05:51:09 PM PST

    •  I think that the more that's being learned about (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rogneid, marina, antirove, kurt, Bob Sloan

      this company they've now contracted with -- or rather, the more the public learns -- the less easy they are becoming with this decision.

      Philosophy is one thing. But public pressure is another thing altogether.

      "If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered anti-Semitic, & if Palestinians seeking self-determination are so accused...then no oppositional move can take place w/o risking the accusation." - Judith Butler

      by David Harris Gershon on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 06:09:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I heard about this on the Randi Rhodes Show (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    antirove, kmfmstar, unfangus, Bob Sloan

    this afternoon, and then read an article on HuffPo. FAU's decision is an outrage and I'm glad the students are fighting back. A university getting in bed with the private prison industry is a new low and further evidence of corporatism infecting higher education. And it's ironic, since the private prison industry seems hell bent on funneling more young people into the school-to-prison pipeline, ensuring that higher education is closed to the many. The private prison industry is a menace and must be dismantled immediately.

    "Behind every great fortune is a great crime." - Honore de Balzac

    by mooremusings on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 06:43:49 PM PST

  •  I could walk there from here! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    antirove, kmfmstar, kurt, unfangus

    And I've had my horrendous differences with their administration (mostly because of their hubris in dealing with locals.)

    FAU has spent a scandalous amount of money to build a totally useless stadium. They have created horrendous traffic problems in their neighborhood. They have ignored the needs of their local community. The "palace" they built for the adminstrator is the biggest scandal of them all. (I bike by it daily!)

    Within half a mile of the campus is a neighborhood with so much poverty that the crime rate has skyrocketed and homeless folks crowd the freeway overpasses.

    FAU, get a conscience@!

  •  And BTW! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    antirove, kmfmstar, freshwater dan, kurt

    Where the stadium sits used to be the tunnels of endangered gopher tortoises. Yeah, I know you are saying "Who cares about a tortoise?"

    But that endangered species is critical to our scrub habitat, and the FAU environment depends on it. From my classroom I can see the parking lot that used to be tropical scrub. FAU used every card they had to avoid environmental controls. What a model!

  •  Students are threatening to call it (5+ / 0-)

    Alcatraz stadium.

    "It riles them to believe you perceive the web they weave." Moody Blues

    by BrianParker14 on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 07:36:33 PM PST

  •  Another one of the flavors of human husbandry-- (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Sloan

    people exploiting their own kind to their detriment.

    The use of the indeterminate third person possessive is intentional because human husbandry, like torture, isn't good for the expoited or the exploiters.

    Since other species do not exploit their own kind on purpose (tadpoles consume anything that doesn't move, including indolent poles), humans behaving in that manner are the lowest of the low. Outright killing may have more justification.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 03:10:05 AM PST

  •  Geo Group is diversifying in an attempt to (0+ / 0-)

    clean up their reputation.  They have spent millions in lobbying with Tally over the past couple of years to encourage Gov Scott to allow privatization of the entire state's prison system and all peripherals; work release, halfway houses, medical care, food service, etc.

    After the huge push back against this privatization, Geo is now attempting to replace the bad publicity by aligning itself with a university that is in serious need of funding.

    Making a profit off the incarceration of Americans is criminal and to then turn around and use the profits to get their name on a University stadium, is inexcusable.  FAU should reconsider this partnership.  Their reputation is worth far more than a mere $500,000 per year!

    FSUgave in to the Koch's money in exchange for influence in the economics department curriculum...its a sign of the huge wealth being amassed by these corrupt corporations - and their willingness to flaunt it in the face of middle class parents and their college age children.

    "Inmates should be reformed - not recycled" http://piecp-violations.com/

    by Bob Sloan on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 10:47:47 AM PST

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