My name is Janine Gaspari and I am a senior in the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution. I am researching campaign donations from Charles and David Koch’s donor network to Virginia state legislators and those legislators voting records on policies that decrease regulations or resources given to institutions of higher education. This question arose for me while organizing for increased donor transparency with the student-led grassroots organization Transparent GMU. I saw instances of Koch donations coming with strings attached at George Mason University and other universities. Since George Mason University is a state institution, the policies that govern it come from the state legislature. This project will shed light on to what extent the Kochs are involved in higher education policy in the Virginia state legislature.
I spend a majority of my time digging through online databases looking at bills on the Virginia Legislative Information System and looking at campaign donations on the Virginia Public Access Project. A majority of my time is spent reading through bills and analyzing the policy implications they have on institutions of higher education and their students and employees. My OSCAR experience has taught me that independent research is rigorous and takes patience, experimentation, and discipline. I feel prepared for what I hope will be a lifetime of research-based advocacy with grassroots advocacy organizations and/or within academia.