Can we please not have an ASSOL at George Mason University?
If you’ve been doing your hourly checks on social media lately or simply browsed the school website, you’ve probably learned that George Mason University has proposed a name change for its Law School.
Enter the new name to taint one of the most respected grad schools at George Mason: Antonin Scalia. A Supreme Court Justice who stuck to his word till the end, no doubt, the name Scalia brings about an unwanted taste of dated views to a university known for its innovation and diversity. The Supreme Court Justice that the GMU Law School has alleged to be renamed after has a highly transparent record and reputation for opposing modern and progressive movements, such as marriage equality, women’s healthcare rights to abortion, and equal pay for work for women and racial minorities.
Of course, behind every inappropriate decision conceived by the university’s Board of Visitors lies a shameful motive that is most clear to the Mason community: donations. While the advantages of, and even at times the necessity for, donations are mutually agreed upon between the university and its students, it has become clear that George Mason University possesses zero restraint.
Of course, behind every inappropriate decision conceived by the university’s board of visitors lies a shameful motive that is most clear to the Mason community: donations.
Apparently in these competitive times between public universities, it has become a priority of this institution to degrade itself to accepting donations from corporations who hold bigoted values and fund their controversial agendas. But to place myself in the university’s administration shoes, I suppose renaming one of its most renowned graduate schools after a controversial figure is worth the donations from equally controversial private firms.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Let’s draw a comparison between the man who Mason has elected to dedicate its Law School to, and the set of values the Mason community passionately holds.
It doesn’t take more than a simple Wikipedia search to learn of Scalia’s ruling history on social landmark cases. More often than not, these social landmarks brought before the US Supreme Court surveyed the nation’s perspective on topics, such as marriage equality, abortion rights, affirmative action, and more. Without declaring which view, conservative or liberal, is superior in the realm of social issues, progressive views do, however, reign supreme. In the words of a presidential candidate who holds many views mirroring that of the late Supreme Court Justice Scalia, you’re fired. Though in fairness, it’s difficult to claim the moral high ground when you’ve linked homosexuality to bestiality, abortion to heartless murder, and believe some races are less capable than others in academia.
At this point, you might be doubting if the Mason community you’ve come to know reflects the perspectives above. For that, it takes no more effort to disperse this ambiguity than to observe the endless repeating values GMU spurs to its potential students. After all, if you haven’t heard ‘’DIVERSITY,’’ ‘’ACCEPTANCE,’’ and ‘’INCLUSION’’ shouted from the lungs of Patriots Leaders until their faces are black and blue, did you really attend George Mason? The issue with the renaming of one of this university’s most recognized grad schools is that the mentioned values are what we strive for. And it’s these same values that make up the Mason community that find no solace in the cavalier disregard in the renaming of the Law School.
After all, if you haven’t heard ‘’DIVERSITY,’’ ‘’ACCEPTANCE,’’ and ‘’INCLUSION’’ shouted from the lungs of Patriots Leaders until their faces are black and blue, did you really attend George Mason?
Aside from the reckless distinction that separates the late Supreme Court Justice and the values that Mason stands by, there lies an even more concerning fact that goes unnoticed. Over time, George Mason University becomes increasingly reliant on corporate funds to back financial and athletic scholarships. While these funds are alleged to reach the pockets of students, they lead to catch-22s the university is welcome to pay on behalf of its students. While the university sees a bump in funds, its identity becomes softened and malleable at the donor’s desire.
Whereas other universities equivalent in size to GMU use their own endowment funds to back scholarship opportunities, George Mason relies on outside donations from corporations for such opportunities. However, as the university and its most renowned departments such as economics are violated by corporate funds, it makes sense that the university conforms its behavior similar to that of private corporations. This is all done while George Mason outsources its financial obligations to its students in an effort to divert its endowment funds to other matters.
This is pathetic and totally unacceptable.
To help demonstrate the dependence the university has placed upon corporate funds, two recent examples have occurred in the past two years alone. In March 2015, the university announced the renaming of arguably Mason’s most iconic building, The Patriot Center. Despite its notorious rep, Mason students quickly realized that the sports center dedicated to the school’s mascot would be renamed the Eagle Bank Arena after the major metropolitan bank. It wasn’t until after the news came out that the students learned the actual cost of the name change: $6.6 million, given over a decade’s time.
The students’ disappointment and frustration resurfaced just 13 months later when the university announced that the School of Law would be renamed after Antonin Scalia, otherwise known as ASSOL. This change was accompanied by a $30 million “gift” (Mason’s largest donation in history) that was thoughtfully provided by two donors. $20 million was provided by an anonymous donor, and $10 million was generously donated from Koch Industries.
The students’ disappointment and frustration resurfaced just 13 months later when the university announced that the School of Law would be renamed after Antonin Scalia, otherwise known as ASSOL.
The dangerously gradual influence of corporate funds making their way into this university is creating a shift in the school’s priorities. School identity in the view of the Board of Visitors has become something for sale to the highest donor. At this rate, it won’t take long before high school seniors will be opening their mailboxes to see their acceptance letters from Koch Industries.
Excuse me, Koch Industries at George Mason University.