It’s been a hectic week for students at Florida Atlantic University. Recently, the school announced that it had sold its football stadium naming rights to GEO Group, the nation’s largest operator of private prisons. The school’s board of trustees approved the deal earlier this month, and it’s estimated that the school will receive $6 million over the next twelve years. It’s reportedly the largest one-time gift that the school’s athletic department has ever received.
That money is of little comfort to students at the school who oppose the move. This week, they’ve staged a number of protests, including a sit-in at University President Jane Saunders’ office.
Here’s more from the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Gonzalo Vizcardo, a student and spokesman for a group calling itself the Stop Owlcatraz Coalition, said the students and other protesters had rallied on the campus Monday morning, then marched to the office of President Mary Jane Saunders to demand that she speak to the group about the naming deal. He said Ms. Saunders did not come out of her office, so about 50 protesters staged a sit-in.
After about two hours, he said, “she came out and offered to meet with us on Friday at noon for an hour to discuss the stadium-name deal.”
On Tuesday evening, Deadspin posted this video of President Saunders addressing students. In it, she sounds diplomatic, but unmoved: “I think that this is a wonderful opportunity for us to think about the impact of us privatizing prisons. We can think about our immigration policies and laws. And I think that it’s a wonderful thing for us as a public university …to discuss.”