Statement by the Stop Owlcatraz Coalition

We are Florida Atlantic University (FAU)students, faculty, & alumni who are protesting alongside the local community against President Saunders and the Board of Trustee's decision to accept $6 million from private prison industry giant, GEO Group in a transaction that would give GEO Group rights to the stadium.
 We are protesting because we believe that institutions of higher learning like FAU have the responsibility to stand up to the systemic racism, corruption and human rights violations that define the prison-for-profit system, and advocate instead for equality and human rights. FAU itself espouses values of “mutual regard for the rights and liberties of all persons” ( And while FAU professors and students have made important contributions to fields of social justice, this controversial move by the administration creates a humiliating association between students, faculty and a human rights violator. FAU is betraying its values, and hurting the careers of its students and faculty.

Additionally, FAU claims to be proud of its diverse student body, which reflects the racial diversity and immigrant communities of South Florida. Yet FAU’s Hispanic students are mostly second generation immigrants whose parents may or may not hold a legal status in the country; by affiliating with a company that lobbies the government to detain undocumented workers, FAU is putting the families of their Hispanic students at risk of being detained in facilities that bear the same name as the stadium of their Alma Mater.

By taking action, we are protesting far more than the name of our stadium; we are protesting the broken criminal justice and immigration detention system that the name The Geo Group represents, a system that FAU, an institution of higher learning and research, has the responsibility to reject and reverse. We are protesting because we won’t allow our stadium to be sponsored by blood money.

We are protesting that corporations like the Geo Group lobby legislators to (1) build immigration detention facilities and (2) pass anti-immigrant legislation in order to arrest enough innocent people to fill their facilities. As a result of Geo paying off politicians, families are torn apart and communities of color are less safe.
We are protesting the mass incarceration of people who have committed non-violent, victimless crimes.
We are protesting incarcerations of people of color at highly disproportionate rates, and the destructive effects of these racist practices on the social fabric of communities of color.
We are protesting a legal system designed to target people of color, immigrants, the homeless, the mentally ill, LGBTQ people, and the poor.
We are protesting sexual violence that occurs behind bars without notice or justice, particularly to LGBTQ individuals.
We are protesting the everyday human rights abuses in America’s prison system: inhumane treatment by guards and officials, the incarceration of children, and the use of solitary confinement for up to 24 hours a day. Solitary confinement for long periods has been called torture by human rights organization worldwide.
We are protesting prisons denying basic healthcare to those behind bars, causing preventable deaths. In private prison, this cost-cutting increases profits.
We are protesting government policy that funds prisons instead of the social services to prevent crime.
We are protesting that this cruel system is also ineffective, failing to reduce rates of crime and recidivism.
We are protesting a legal system that, due to lobbying & campaign contributions by private prisons corporations, grants them impunity and a lack of accountability for these abuses. We are protesting that companies like the Geo Group profit from pain, and use those profits to buy the silence and support of institutions like ours. By engaging in a financial transaction with the Geo Group, FAU has become complicit in the violence of this system.

We call on the FAU administration to not only revoke its decision to name the stadium after the Geo Group, but to sever all financial and working ties to the corporation, and instead remain true to its promise to “promote honesty in all spheres, social and moral development, and ethical standards in all areas of human activity.”

-Stop Owlcatraz Coalition.