FSU Students Challenge Administration

Florida State University students held an academic freedom funeral and left a list of demands for incoming President Sen. John Thrasher in attempt to fight against the university agreement with the Charles Koch Foundation.

The Charles Koch Foundation agreed to donate $1.6 million to FSU’s Department of Economics in exchange for influence over faculty hire, graduate assistant hire and curriculum.

Mary R. Courbon, Vice President of Student Affairs, spoke to student protestors and listened to their demands.

“Their major desire was for president elect Thrasher to meet with them and he will on Monday,” Courbon said. “I haven’t had a chance to read their demands yet, but I understand it is the same as from the presidential search process.”

Thrasher attended the Board of Governors meeting and was not on campus to speak with the students.

Jerry Funt, Co-President of the FSU Progress Coalition, brought the list of demands to Courbon and discussed their priority claims with her on behalf of the student protestors.

“The big two demands would be a new policy of transparency and review of donor agreements and also a cancellation of our current Charles Koch agreement,” Funt said. “We are looking for certain demands to be met upon his arrival. We want to defend the university and we want to defend academic freedom.”

The students will refuse to recognize Thrasher as president of FSU until he meets with them regarding their demands. Some of the demands include Thrasher agreeing to donor disclosure and that all future agreements with Charles Koch and affiliates are rejected.

The students yelled their demands on the steps of Westcott Building before preforming their funeral for academic freedom. The funeral consisted of four students laying on the ground chained to each other, while a circle of students held a black blanket covered with flowers over them.  The circle of students read a eulogy for academic freedom dying.

Students from all areas of study participated in the funeral and delivery of demands this afternoon.

Aaron Ellis, a theatre student, has been a heavy supporter of the student activism against the Charles Koch Foundation and the appointment of Thrasher.

“The idea is that we’re being shackled by corporate interest and we won’t rest until our demands are met. We want to raise the torch on this issue and light it on fire,” Ellis said. “We will not submit to a bureaucratic tyranny. By having a corrupt process, we have been given a corrupt president and when corruption reigns, the answer is civil disobedience.”

The students held a rally and marched to the capital earlier on Monday.