The siting of a private school on a public university campus is bad enough, but this is a private school run by the Kochs. The Wonder school is owned and run by Wonder Inc., a nonprofit founded by Charles “Chase” and Annie Koch, the son and daughter-in-law of billionaire conservative funder Charles Koch. Chase is on the board of the Koch Institute, whose mission is the “advancement of liberty and economic freedom by educating students in a classroom.” Wichita State has said that there are “no Koch Industries corporate funds being used” and that the Wonder school “won’t advocate a religious, social or political philosophy.” However, NPQ has covered how the Koch brothers have spent many millions of dollars on universities across the country, and their commitment to “school choice” and charter or private schools over public school investment is well-documented.
Just last year, the Wichita State Student Senate took a vote of no confidence in President Bardo, citing, among other things, “a lack of transparency regarding the proposed building of a YMCA on Innovation Campus, which Bardo said the university will continue to pursue despite the student senate’s opposition to it. The resolution cites the issue as an example of the administration placing the will of private business over that of students.”
Is this an example where a lack of stakeholder involvement permitted the privatization of public resources without public consent? The privatization of public resources is certainly in line with the Kochs’ libertarian philosophy, but it is not in line the values of a public university.—Erin Rubin