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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 29, 2016

Press Contacts
CGW: Joseph Moore, (732) 948-5718
FGR: Anahita Zare, (407) 697-3693

On Wednesday, Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson announced his hand-picked appointees to the University of Missouri Independent Review Commission, finalizing the commission’s composition. This announcement follows Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard’s appointments, which included former Republican gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence, conservative pundit Renee Hulshof (wife of former Republican gubernatorial candidate Kenny Hulshof), and multiple appointees with deep financial and political ties to the Missouri Republican Party, Ron Richard, and Kurt Schaefer’s own political campaigns.

Today’s appointments include Jeanne Sinquefield, wife of Republican megadonor and far-right conservative billionaire Rex Sinquefield. Sinquefield’s extreme political agenda has aggressively pushed anti-worker initiatives and attacks on public educational institutions across the state. Furthermore, Sinquefield bankrolls Republican candidates across Missouri, including Kurt Schaefer, whose bullying and scorched earth political tactics have helped create the very crisis from which he now seeks to “save” the University of Missouri System.

These partisan appointees make the Commission’s aim clear: to reshape the University of Missouri in the image of extremists in the Missouri Legislature, as enacted by political operatives and megadonors whose ties to the Missouri Republican Party and special interests run deeper than their commitment to providing Missourians with high quality and affordable higher education. Already Republican leadership has warned that the commission’s recommendations must be followed, or else the University will face severe cuts to its appropriations. The implication is clear: the review will not seek to support an independent institution founded on freedom of inquiry and a public, land-grant mission. It will instead demand a University that bows to the whims of the Republican supermajority.

The Coalition of Graduate Workers and the Forum on Graduate Rights condemn the Republican supermajority’s political threats against the University of Missouri, particularly the threat to slash funding if their agenda is not enacted, and jointly call on all Missourians who support and love the University of Missouri to oppose these threats. Missouri families and working Missourians deserve access to world-class and affordable higher education. Although the Commission claims to serve this goal, in reality, it will only bludgeon our University into following a partisan agenda.

Signed,

Coordinating Committee, Coalition of Graduate Workers

Steering Committee, Forum on Graduate Rights

The Coalition of Graduate Workers is a union local affiliated with the Missouri National Education Association. It represents 2,700 graduate student employees at the University of Missouri flagship campus.

The Forum on Graduate Rights is a grassroots movement founded to advocate for the rights of graduate and professional students at the University of Missouri.

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