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