Communities around the world have been deeply impacted by the recent public health crisis surrounding the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. We are no exception. Our students, faculty, and community organizers are experiencing the reverberations in devastating ways. Early university and college closures mean low-income students, faculty with nontenured contracts, and campus workers are feeling the compounded consequences of higher education’s trends of privatization.
Already overworked and under-resourced K12 educators are scrambling to provide equitable ongoing education to their students while worrying if some of them have food to eat for lunch. Families are scared for those targeted by the Koch network’s campaign to fill private prisons, wondering how their loved ones will be protected during incarceration.
Despite grave challenges, UnKoch My Campus continues to hold strong to our mission, vision, and values. Now, more than ever, we must call out the bad actors seeking to place economic gain over the people. In order to protect our families, friends, and neighbors, we must demand that the value of people’s lives be placed over profits. The only way to protect our economy is by protecting each other.
The Koch network is a major reason for the nation’s lack of trust in its government. The Koch network’s decades-long campaign to degrade the public’s confidence in its government has paved the way for Trump’s fake-news narrative and the rise of misinformation. COVID-19 is now showing us that there are material consequences to the “battle of ideas.” These ideas in support of free-market economics, privatization, and corporate control come at the cost of human life and dignity.
At this moment our opposition is using the current public health crisis as a cover for seizing more power and further infiltrating our democracy. While communities are struggling to gather their strength during this crisis, environmental protections are being gutted, students are still being prosecuted for exercising their right to free speech on their campuses, K-12 teachers are still being held to punitive testing standards by the Koch network’s own Betsy Devos, and our judiciary remains under attack from dark-money donors.
While our tactics will shift slightly, our focus and intensity remain the same. We are already poised to help our students, faculty, and community partners transition their campaigns online and identify unique tactics to keep the pressure on.
UnKoch My Campus and our grassroots organizers are active and passionate as ever about protecting institutions of the common good. If this crisis has shown us anything, it’s that we, the global community, can place people over profits and disrupt the agenda of corporations that suggest otherwise quickly and effectively. Those who put money first have been setting the rules for far too long.
We hope you’ll join us in our work to resist corporate control, center the needs of the most vulnerable in our society, and transform our communities in service of a more just future.
The fight continues.
— Jasmine Banks, Executive Director, UnKoch My Campus