With the ongoing controversy regarding the Charles Koch Foundation's role in a $3.25 million donation to Ball State, a group of students have formed together as a local branch of UnKoch My Campus to attempt to fight against outside influences they believe could corrupt academic integrity at Ball State.
Morgan Aprill, a graduate student pursuing a degree in TESOL/linguistics and a founder of the group, started to get interested in the national anti-Koch group after reading Levi Todd’s opinion piece about the announcement of the Papa John Schnatter and Koch donation.
“Members of UnKoch My Campus reached out to [Todd], who reached out to me about help in researching the agreement,” Aprill said. “Since then, I've tried all I could to try to reach out to students to get involved.”
At a public forum meeting on May 24, where UnKoch researcher Ralph Wilson presented some of his research, Aprill’s newly formed group held public signups for those interested in joining.
“[The meeting] was also for recruitment for this group, because up until this point I had been trying very hard to find like-minded individuals to help me moving forward with investigations into the president's disappearance and the Koch donation, and finally my cries don't feel like they're falling on deaf ears,” Aprill said.
The group is open to people interested from Ball State, the Muncie community or citizens of Indiana. The group’s main goal is to uphold academic freedom.
Chair of the Ball State presidential search committee Matt Momper said at the May 23 public forum meeting the university's agreement with the Charles Koch Foundation is not at all a threat to academic freedom, as there are checks and balances in place, and the school is still in charge of the hiring of professors and the learning material for coursework.
Momper also said the trustees do not have a conflict of interest with the Koch Foundation, nor do they have a personal financial interest with Koch.
Aprill is interested in forming an official club on campus called UnKoch BSU, but she doesn’t think the group will be approved.
“Seeing the denial from our administration of ties to the Kochs and strings attached, as well as the fact the way to form a student group is under revision, we aren't sure we will be able to form as a group on campus,” Aprill said. “But we're okay with that because this is bigger than our campus. It expands to Muncie, our state and our whole nation."
Logan Edwards, a senior chemistry major and another student interested in the UnKoch My Campus movement, had been planning on starting a group called the "Young Libertarian Left" to promote labor causes, but then he found out about the Schnatter and Koch donation.
Edwards then joined the newly founded group.
“I came to the group by accident around a week ago and was ready to go immediately,” Edwards said. “I have been propagandized to think that our economic system and the actions of our nation abroad were just my whole life, and I see building solidarity in our community as a model for fighting economic oppression across the country.”