FAIRFAX, VA (WUSA9) - Some students at George Mason University are worried their education may be influenced by billionaire donors, and now they have taken their concerns to the courtroom.
“I am concerned about donors being able to influence my education through money,” said Janine Gaspari, a sophomore at GMU.
Gaspari is worried that a more than $50 million donation to her school by the Charles Koch foundation, a charitable foundation that supports many conservative causes, comes with strings attached.
“I believe education shouldn't be dictated by a donor,” said Gaspari.
However, Gaspari is worried that exactly what's happening in Fairfax.
This after an independent group found that the billionaire oil and gas moguls, and big-time conservative donors, the Koch brothers, were influencing hiring and curriculum decisions after they made a donation to Florida State University.
GMU Sophomore Adam McKiernan has concerns too.
“It really troubles me the notion that my education is being undermined and controlled by big money donors,” said McKiernan.
The students don't know if the Koch Brothers are influencing their education at GMU, because school officials aren't releasing any information. Now students have filed a lawsuit.
The students first filed a Freedom of Information Request back in 2014 to find out about the terms of the donation, but the school denied that request. Administrators said the records belong to the private foundation, the George Mason University Foundation.
The foundation said they are not subject to the Virginia law because it's a private entity.
However, students argued they have the right to know the terms surrounding the Koch donations.
“This is a public university and we just want transparency,” said Gaspari.
The question of whether GMU must release the terms around the Koch Brothers donation is now playing out in court.
WUSA9 did reach out to representatives at George Mason University, but has not heard back.
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