Instead of our usual Humpday Hall of Shame post, we have good news to report this week: yesterday, GEO Group announced that it would no longer be buying the naming rights to Florida Atlantic University’s new football stadium. In February, we covered an arranement between GEO Group and FAU in which GEO would pay six million dollars over twelve years in exchange for its logo emblazoned across the stadium. University president Mary Jane Saunders faced immediate backlash from her own students, as well as organizations and individuals across the country. Over 70,000 people signed petitions online and Grassroots Leadership helped organize 60 organizations to sign on to a public letter to Saunders and the FAU Board of Trustees (circulated by Grassroots Leadership). Even FAU's faculty senate condemned the deal.
Talking to NPR, Saunders expressed no remorse over the deal or her actions and blamed the wave of bad publicity on “about 20 students,” despite the strong coalition on-campus with tremendous support outside she's had to deal with. George Zoley, GEO chairman and member of the FAU board of trustees, explained the move saying that "what was originally intended as a gesture of GEO's goodwill…has surprisingly evolved into an ongoing distraction to both of our organizations."
Whatever the reason, we’re glad to see the end of this unholy alliance between a private prison corporation and a university. But, as we exposed earlier, this isn’t the only place it’s happening. Hopefully, other institutions will follow suit and kick for-profit prison interests out of our schools.