University Of Kentucky Approves New $7 Million Industry-Funded Dorm Named After Coal

You can’t make this stuff up, as this Think Progress repost makes clear.

A group led by Alliance Coal CEO Joseph Craft recently proposed donating $7 million to the University of Kentucky for a new dorm for the men’s basketball team. The catch, however, is that the dorm would have to be named after Craft’s true love: coal. The proposed change sparked intense protests from local environmentalists and students. One professor said that as universities become “models for new energy sources,” putting “coal” on a prominent building could “make it difficult to attract top students and faculty members to the university.”

[JR:  Yes, coal industry will spend millions for a new dorm -- and yet Massey Energy refused to fund a new school so students can move away from coal processing plant!]

Yesterday afternoon, the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees voted 16-3 to approve the proposal for the new dorm, which will be named the “Wildcat Coal Lodge.” Significantly, two of the “no” votes were from faculty representative Ernie Yanarella and Student Government President Ryan Smith, who said he opposed the motion “as a voice for the student body.”

Students in the audience were reportedly not allowed to speak at the meeting. After the vote, people began chanting, “Move forward, not backward,” forcing the trustees to temporarily recess. More on the events at the meeting:

The vote set off shouts from about 30 protesters, mostly students, who attended the meeting.

Big Coal is about to go down, and the university’s going down with them,” said Cor de Jong, who described himself as “a Lexingtonian and a basketball fan.”

A statement from students was passed out to board members moments before the vote. “They did not read our statement,” said Katie Goldey, a senior majoring in international studies. “They weren’t even given a chance to read it.”


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