FAU Students Stage Protest Over GEO Naming Rights (UPDATED)
Last week, we told you about how Florida Atlantic University sold the naming rights for its football stadium to the GEO Group -- a company that not only happens to be one of the world's largest for-profit operators of detention centers, prisons, and correctional facilities but also has a long trail of human rights abuse and an even shadier history of trying to cover it all up.
(They're on to us. Quick! Delete our Wikipedia page!)
As a result of this, around 100 protesters marched to Florida Atlantic University President Mary Jane Saunders' office Monday afternoon to stage a sit-in.
Update: Saunders spoke briefly to the protesters in the lobby of her office. She says she plans to hold a Q&A session on Friday at noon on campus.
The protesters wanted to speak with Saunders personally when they arrived, but their efforts to enter her office had been no dice. She eventually came out.
According to the Palm Beach Post, around 40 or so protesters broke off from the hundred to negotiate with university officials to gain access into Saunders' office. Ironically, Saunders was imprisoned in her own office with six security guards standing guard outside the door.
A couple of the protesters managed to walk into her office and asked her to address the crowd and the issue, but she refused. When she eventually did come out, the protesters asked if she would meet their demands. Saunders told them she would answer their questions at the Q & A Friday.
|Students stage sit-in outside FAU president's office. (photo via @DiplomatEsq)|
The protesters are demanding that FAU give the $6 million it received back to GEO for the right to name the stadium for the next 12 years.
Meanwhile, ACLU of Florida attorney Julie Ebenstein joined in the protest, which was organized over the weekend, to fight back against the university's letting a company with a long history of human-rights abuses place its name on the football stadium.
"By allowing GEO Group to use the university as a prop in a campaign to whitewash their record, FAU is participating in an effort to desensitize Floridians to the horrors within the prisons-for-profit industry," Ebenstein said. "No glowing logo on the side of a stadium can stamp out the shameful record of neglect and mistreatment at GEO Group facilities. FAU's willingness to portray GEO as just another good corporate citizen may ultimately smooth the path for a further expansion of prisons-for-profit in Florida, when evidence shows that handing control of our prisons to private corporations harms our communities and neglects true criminal justice reform."
For its part, GEO Vice President for Corporate Affairs Pablo E. Paez responded to the protest and the allegations, calling the accusations lies and telling everyone how GEO donates a lot of money, so people should lay off.
Among the things Paez says: