FAU student protesters are claiming victory in football stadium naming rights controversy
GEO group withdrew 6 million dollar donation
Brian Entin, Newschannel 5
11:32 PM, Apr 1, 2013
BOCA RATON, Fla. - FAU's President says she will talk to the media Tuesday about GEO Group's decision to withdraw its 6 million dollar donation to the university.
FAU students protested the donation which would have resulted in the company's name on the football stadium.
The Geo Group operates private prisons, and is
accused by the ACLU and other groups of abusing and neglecting inmates.
The "Stop Owlcatraz Coalition" was especially happy with the surprise decision Monday night.
"We thought this was an April Fool's joke at first. This shows when students and faculty join together and fight for what is right and fight against people who violate human rights, we win," protestor Gonzalo Vizcardo said.
Vizcardo is claiming victory after he got almost sixty thousand people to sign his anti Geo Group petition.
GEO Group's CEO George Zoley released a statement Monday, that said in part: "What was originally intended as a gesture of goodwill to financially assist the University's athletic program has surprisingly evolved into an ongoing distraction to both of our organizations."
The gift would have been a 12 year commitment with installments of 500,000 each year.
Many students and alumni are now wondering if the controversies on the FAU campus this year will hurt the university's reputation.
"One of my English professors was just talking today about how he doesn't want to get his Ph.D. here anymore because when this school makes the news it is always negative," student Dion Vlachos said.
Rich Kasser, who graduated from FAU in 2007, says the controversies will likely blow over.
"I really hope it is a short term impact. I don't think it will be long term because FAU has done a good job boosting its reputation," Kasser said.
The fate of the school's reputation is still unknown, but the "Owlcatraz Coalition" says this proves that a grass roots organization can influence big change.
"People should know if they speak out and work together they will see results. The power of students and faculty together is more than the power of the president of a university," Vizcardo said.
Vizcardo says he has a victory party with other protesters planned for Tuesday.