Heads should be rolling in the offices of FAU's Board of Trustees, as the affront to decency of the school's climbing into bed with notorious private prison octopus GEO Group turns into a well-deserved public relations disaster.
The Board doesn't surrender the pink on the cheap, at least. They scored six million smackers putting out for Jails"R"Us, selling them naming rights to the school's football field.
When it comes to selling your soul, the university's taught some of its children well. As the debacle unfolded, an attempted coverup of GEO's history of infamy was orchestrated by one Abraham Cohen (class of '09). Cohen doubtless caught the eye of GEO CEO George Zoley (class of '72) when Cohen, as student body president, was an ex officio member of the board, where Zoley has sat since 2003, twice as chair. Cohen now serves as GEO's minister of propaganda.
Nothing better illustrates the perpetrators' awareness of how badly they screwed up than their desperate, foolish attempt to delete Wikipedia's description of GEO's trail of tears. (Even more encyclopedic surveys are here and here.) Some of the company's abuses have occurred in our own back yard, but its greasy fingers are all over Florida, investing heavily in politicians like Marco Rubio.
GEO's dunderheaded effort to whitewash the Web also illustrates how glaringly inappropriate it is to link the company to an institution of higher learning. FAU purports to be in the business of imparting knowledge; their bedmates at GEO work to toss history down the memory hole.
Those who defend the board and the company will trot out the usual market fundamentalist arguments. They'll argue that GEO lawfully provides a benefit to consumers and that any excesses on its part can be addressed through capitalism's self-correcting mechanism--consumers can refuse to patronize GEO and take their dollars to its competitors, private or public.
That doesn't work when it comes to private prisons. Their consumers include not only the public--who purchase the incarceration of lawbreakers--but the prisoners too, who, hidden from view, suffer the consequences of GEO's methods. "Do the crime, do the time" doesn't extend to prisoner abuse.
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FAU faculty? So far, it seems, like the creature that serves as the FAU athletes' mascot, they've buried their heads in the sand. The business school...Okay, we don't expect much of them. But the humanities and social sciences...They should know better. A failure to condemn the trustees' fellating of GEO would mark them forever as moral cretins. Silence is consent.
Press Conference and Rally Against "Owlcatraz"
10:00AM, Monday, February 25th
Free Speech Lawn
Between Social Sciences Building and General Classroom South Building,
FAU Boca Raton Campus
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