There’s a new sponsor of University of Wisconsin Athletic Department, and they’re no small-time car dealership. Their ad ran during the first home football game of the year. It’s a clip of a historic Badger football moment beginning and ending with a message from Koch Industries.
In the weeks since, a chorus of boos have grown within the student section at Camp Randall and these clips continue to draw attention from the crowd. It might seem like a fun moment for Badger fans to reminisce on “the good old days,” but in reality, these moments are presented through an ominous marketing effort by the nefarious Koch brothers.
Charles and David Koch, the two brothers behind Koch Industries, are considered monetary giants within the Republican political sphere. They are known contributors to conservative candidates across the country, including Gov. Scott Walker.
This could be a non-issue, but unfortunately Koch Industries — as well as their sponsorship of the ideals held by Walker — is a direct affront to values UW and residents of Wisconsin hold dear.
The education agenda Walker has unleashed in our state, backed by the Koch brothers, cut funding and essentially disbanded teacher unions. Considering this, it raises a serious question as to why any part of the university, especially the affluent Athletic Department, would want to associate themselves with such an enterprise.
Furthermore, Koch Industries has a negative reputation for its treatment of the environment on a global scale. That stands in direct contrast to a university that has stood on the forefront of environmentalism for generations.
UW sits in the heart of one of the most environmentally progressive cities in the country. This is the university that hosted world famous naturalists and conservationists Aldo Leopold and John Muir, as well as the founder of Earth Day, former Wisconsin Gov. Gaylord Nelson.
The tradition continues today with UW programming in agriculture and forestry as we maintain an international reputation of excellence and environmental responsibility. In terms of conservation efforts, UW should be considered a shining city on the hill.
And yet today our Athletic Department works in partnership with a company that has been found guilty of various ethical violations, including lying to environmental regulators and ignoring environmental regulations.
Koch industries has been forced to pay the government — as well as citizens all over the country — millions of dollars for the environmental damage they have done.
In addition, when discussing politicians that have damaged education in Wisconsin, no name is more frequently mentioned than that of our current governor and recently-failed presidential candidate who is supported by the Koch brothers.
Whether it be the infamous Act 10 or the recent $250 million cut (pared down from his original proposal) from the UW System budget, Walker continues to wreak havoc on an already-underfunded system in Wisconsin.
The Koch Industries ads at college football games may seem to be the Koch brothers’ way of showing support for higher education, but they clearly don’t walk the walk.
Faculty, students or alumni from UW should (hopefully) respects and values education. We all love Badger football, but game day at Camp Randall is also a celebration of the tradition of excellence that has been cultivated across the university.
Previous generations have worked hard to create that culture. By partnering our historic stadium with a corporation that completely disregards some of the most important and long-held UW traditions and values, we chip away at the character of the university.
I would rather have Dr. Pepper, anyway. Keep game day Koch-free.
Connor Touhey ([email protected]) is a junior majoring in political science and history
A previous version of this article incorrectly named Gaylord Nelson’s position in political office. A correction has since been made and The Badger Herald regrets this error.