Letter to the editor: Nov. 20, 2013

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Students respond to The Suffolk Journal’s Nov. 13, 2013 front page story “BHI defends funding despite Suffolk alum’s petition: No Koch money.”

MORE TRANSPARENCY NEEDED

The fact that the Koch brothers have been operating mostly undetected on my own campus under the guise of a respected research entity is troubling (“BHI defends funding despite Suffolk alum’s petition: No Koch money,” Nov. 13, 2013).

Accepting contributions from the Koch brothers, who have a clear track record of attacking labor laws, limiting access to healthcare, and dismantling sensible environmental regulations for personal gain, harms the reputation of Suffolk University, alumni, and students like me by diminishing the marketability and value of our degrees in an already difficult job market. Furthermore, the lack of transparency afforded to students in general about the contributions, corporate and otherwise, that affect our education and reputation is unconscionable.

In 2008 when concerns arose over former Suffolk President David Sargent’s unprecedented pay, Suffolk students didn’t sit quietly. Let’s continue our tradition of pressing for integrity and transparency on campus and demand that the administration fully disclose exactly what funding they get from the Koch brothers, and what it’s being used for.

-Brayton Ducharme 

Class of 2015

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JORDAN POSSESSES OBVIOUS BIAS

Suffolk alum Kalin Jordan admits she is not an economist, and further that one “[doesn’t] have to be an economist or an expert in the field to know that something is wrong” with the results of the Beacon Hill Institute’s (BHI) research results. On the website Kochfreezone.org, Jordan attacks the BHI’s research methodology, offering that the BHI “publicizes and propagates poorly conducted research” which serves to “undermine progressive policies throughout the country.” The last bit is especially telling, as it brings to light the core of the issue Ms. Jordan has with the BHI accepting donations from the Charles G. Koch foundation: the results of the BHI’s research and the conservative, libertarian beliefs of the Koch foundation are diametrically opposed to her own progressive worldview.

Ms. Jordan refers to her LinkedIn profile in the article, a heavily progressive résumé ranging from her creation of and participation in various Young Democrat leagues, to her time acting as an organizer and volunteer for Planned Parenthood, and going further to list her involvement in various political campaigns in support of Democrat candidates. Given her admitted political inclination as a radical left-winger, it is hard to imagine Ms. Jordan would have taken issue with the research of the BHI if it had supported progressive measures such as the Affordable Care Act or safety net programs such as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP).

Ms. Jordan admits that the methodology she used to reach her conclusion about the inaccuracy of the conclusions resulting from the BHI’s use of the Structural Time Series Analyser, Modeller and Predictor (STAMP) model is based on her “relying on research that others have done that are experts in the field”, again indicative of her lack of the understanding regarding the make-up and applicability of economic models. The STAMP model was developed by established economists from prestigious European universities, to include Oxford and Cambridge in England, as well as the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Ms. Jordan’s contention that BHI’s use of the STAMP system is one which “produces skewed results” because it “takes particular parts of data to make their reports because it serves their political views and financial donors” reveals the nature of her partisan-tainted, prejudice viewpoint and its impact on her inability to objectively evaluate an economic analysis model.

If Ms. Jordan truly espouses the Democratic values she claims to, she would value the presence of opposing opinions and the impact that differing views offer to the discourse of a functioning society and economy.

-Phillip Bates

Class of 2016

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KEEP THE KOCH MONEY FLOWING

Last week, the Journal ran a front page story reporting that Suffolk was the recipient of hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from the Koch brothers’ foundations, and how alumna Kalin Jordan is fighting for the school to reject future Koch funding.

For readers who do not closely follow politics, the Koch brothers, Charles and David, are the two majority owners of Koch Industries. The private conglomerate sells everything from chemicals and petroleum to pulp, paper and plastics.

Politically, the brothers are libertarians, fiscal conservatives who are socially tolerant and prefer a smaller government with fewer regulations. David Koch ran for Vice President on the 1980 Libertarian Party ticket, America’s largest “third party.”

Each brother has made significant political contributions to conservative candidates. David Koch hosted a $50k-per-person fundraising dinner for Mitt Romney. The brothers have made political enemies out of liberals and environmentalists, and are frequently lambasted by such pundits.

But while Jordan’s website (Kochfreezone.org) accurately describes the Koch brothers’ activities and explains their relationship to Suffolk, it does not offer any good reason for Suffolk to stop accepting their money.

Jordan’s premise for rejecting the Koch’s money is that they are wealthy businessmen who fund political groups that advocate for free-market governmental policies.

Her petition states that the research put forth by the Beacon Hill Institute, the Suffolk’s economic think tank that has received donations from the Koch foundations, “works to undermine progressive policies throughout the country.” But, as BHI’s executive director David Tuerck pointed out in the article, most of the Koch-donated money funded a professor’s salary and provided fellowships to Ph.D. candidates, keeping it separate from BHI’s funding activities.

Furthermore, the BHI’s research is not meant to affirm progressive policies. As the BHI website says, its research is meant to “produce reasonable, timely analyses of the (key political) issues” for Massachusetts’ citizens and legislators alike.

Moreover, the Koch brothers’ donations fund lectures and events open to the entire Suffolk community, such as Casey Mulligan’s speech covered in the Journal two weeks ago. (Mr. Tuerck stated at the event that a grant from the Charles G. Koch Foundation had helped to bring Mr. Mulligan to campus.) The event was packed, and Mr. Mulligan’s speech was not a one-sided display of finger pointing, but rather a thorough and empirical explanation of the data supporting his economic theory.

Donations from outside groups clearly benefit the Suffolk community; they can bring interesting lecturers to broaden students’ minds, or help Ph.D. candidates pursue an education, or bring a new professor to campus. Rejecting the Kochs’ funding would close doors to our community, not improve Suffolk’s reputation, as Jordan claims.

Last week, the Journal’s staff editorial closed by saying “We would like to see Suffolk publish a report of who donates to the school and what the outside funding buys for our education.” Such a report would clearly have shown that the Koch brothers’ funding did not interfere with the BHI’s research, and would have shown the many opportunities these donations have given our community.

Let the donations keep rolling in.

-Sam Humphrey

Class of 2017

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Have an opinion about a story the Journal has published? Write a letter to the editor! Make sure to include the name of the article you are responding to, your full name, and year of graduation. Submissions must be emailed to [email protected] by midnight on Sundays to be printed in that week’s edition. All submissions are subject to edits for clarity and length.  

 

 

 

 

 

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