Ask the grumpies: Should universities take Koch or Epstein money?

SLAC prof asks:

Is taking money from Jeffrey Epstein worse than taking money from the Koch foundation?  Which is worse?  Clearly we shouldn’t take money from the KKK.  Is it ok to take anyone’s money if there aren’t strings, or is there a line?  Who gets to decide the line?  Does Koch money ever truly have no strings?  Should personal morals be irrelevant when an institution takes money?

Oh wow, this is a hard one.  We’re really not ethicists and don’t have enough expertise to have an opinion on non-obvious cases.  That said… here are some thoughts.

First off, personally I think it’s fine to take money that doesn’t have strings attached (including naming rights!!) from the estate of someone who is dead.  So if you’re an institution that has a morally horrific but extremely wealthy graduate and he just gives you a couple million in his will but it’s completely unrestricted, go ahead and take it without advertising it.  Put it towards something completely antithetical to what he would have wanted (sexual assault prevention training for freshmen with a focus on how not to assualt) or spend it on something boring (utility bills) freeing up that fungible money for other things.  If he says you have to name something after him or hire someone specific etc., then don’t take the money (and advertise you didn’t take it).

If the bad person or group is still alive, don’t take money with strings attached.  No naming rights.  No final approval of tenure track hires.

When there aren’t strings it gets much more complicated.  Yes, one shouldn’t take KKK money (unless it’s used for training frats how not to do blackface or to pay for programs etc. that benefit black students and faculty– I’m a big fan of F-U uses of bad guys’ money).  But if Koch money is offered for something that isn’t evil (no strings scholarships)?  And they do fund things that aren’t evil along with their massive funding of evil… I’m not sure.  I mean, I’d like to encourage them to spend more money on not-evil and less money on evil.  But I don’t want them to get credit for the not-evil stuff as if it makes up for the evil stuff because it really doesn’t.

This is hard.

What do you think, Grumpy Nation?  Should institutes of higher education accept money from bad people and bad organizations?  Under what circumstances?

Where Leah’s donation went

Leah won our “most commenting of 2017″ contest .  That means she got to pick where we donated our previous month’s blog earnings to.  How much did we donate?  We topped it up so that we could give $50.

Where did she pick?  Advancement Project

According to its website:

Advancement Project works in deep partnership with organized communities of color to dismantle and reform the unjust and inequitable policies that undermine the promise of democracy through the development of community-based solutions to racial justice issues.

Here’s their charity navigator page—  looks pretty good.

 

Where Chacha’s donation went and why you should donate too

Chacha won our “most commenting of 2015″ contest (even though she wasn’t aware she’d entered, she had, oh, she had).  That means she got to pick where we donated our last month’s blog earnings to.  How much did we donate?  Well, we topped it up so that we could give $100.  That seems like a nice number.

Where did she pick?  Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood is a non-profit that provides women’s health care and reproductive information world-wide.  They do cancer screenings and reproductive health for men and women, as well as pre-natal care and access to family planning.  They are a force for good in this world, allowing women control over their own bodies, helping families (including low income families who don’t have other options) plan the family size that is best for them, and providing health care to those who would not otherwise be able to afford it.

Unfortunately they are under attack in the US.  The only reason that we can think of is that the Patriarchy wants to keep women down.  They want poor people to remain poor.  They want women to remain permanently pregnant.  The want rich white men in control always and forever.  It sounds like a conspiracy theory, but is there any other explanation about why there’s so much push to cut government funding for non-abortion services?  (Abortion services already do not receive government funding.)

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Because of this lack of government funding, Planned Parenthood has had to scale back considerably.  In much of the country, women now have to drive hours, possibly across states, to use their services.  That means that a lot of women are no longer able to get access to safe, affordable birth control, cancer screenings, or, yes, abortions.  That means more unwanted babies being born in bad circumstances.  More women dying of preventable diseases.  More back-alley abortions.  Real people are being hurt.

What can you do?  Well, your donations won’t make up for the government cut-backs, but every dollar still helps.  Donate.

And write your government officials.  Tell them you want funding restored.  Healthcare for women is important for everyone.  It’s important for this country.

Join ChaCha in helping this important organization.  And thank you.