Owlcatraz runs a-fowl of some FAU sensibilities

Thursday February 21st, 2013

For those of you just joining us in the rapidly snowballing saga of Florida Atlantic's stadium naming rights, let's run a quick timeline. Tuesday morning, FAU announced that a $6 million donation had been bestowed upon the university by The GEO Group:

The largest one-time gift in the history of FAU athletics, it will be used to support athletic operations, including FAU's intercollegiate athletic program, the stadium, scholarships and academic priorities. In recognition of this gift, the football stadium at FAU's Boca Raton campus will be named GEO Group Stadium.

The GEO Group operates prison facilities all around the world, making the choice of a new stadium nickname quite simple:


Here's FAU President Mary Jane Saunders, on Tuesday: "It is so exciting to now have a name for our beautiful stadium, and I couldn't think of a better way to do that than by way of philanthropy. This gift is a true representation of The GEO Group's incredible generosity to FAU and the community it serves. It is especially meaningful because George Zoley, GEO's chairman, is a two-time FAU alumnus and former chair of our Board of Trustees."

... and then this happened:

Florida Atlantic University’s announcement to change the name of its football stadium to that of a private prison corporation accused of human rights violation has surprised and outraged students as well as South Florida’s pro-immigrant activists. [...] FAU President Mary Jane Saunder initially agreed to talk about the news, but after hearing questions about the immigration detention center, a university spokesperson said they would have to return the call later. At press time, the university had stopped responding to El Nuevo Herald’s calls.
Patrick Vint details some of the higher-profile criticisms of The GEO Group here, and outlines how the company appears to now be engaging in that most celebrated of stumbling backpedal maneuvers: The mass Wikipedia deletion spree. But no matter where this mess winds up, we're sure you'll all agree that we're all calling it Owlcatraz until the end of time.

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