On Oct. 3, in response to the Board of Trustees’ decision to rename the planned academic complex from “Gianforte Academic Center” to “Gianforte Family Academic Center,” a group of current students and alumni launched a GoFundMe campaign titled “Stevens Name Your Price.” The campaign has a fundraising goal of $20,000,001, an amount $1 more than the combined donations made by Gregory Gianforte to fund the new academic center, so that “the administration may entertain our request to change the name.”
The campaign cites several reasons for the organizers’ desire to not allow Gianforte’s name to be attached to the planned academic building on its “About” section, which notes that Gianforte has done things to their dislike such as “assaulting a journalist, propagating values antithetical to [Stevens] such as scientific creationism and climate change denial, and funding organizations that promote violent conversion therapy and the denial of fundamental rights for the LGBTQ community.” The organizers go on to say, “The Stevens we know… doesn’t tolerate any of these things, so why should it honor a man who practices them?” If the campaign fails to reach its $20,000,001 goal, all donations will be sent to the Hudson Pride Connections Center, an organization based in Jersey City that advocates for the physical, mental, social, and political well-being of the LGBTQ community.
“This campaign is about highlighting the role that money had to play in the decision of naming the building,” says Natalie Barillaro, a recent Stevens alum involved with the campaign. “The intention was never to raise [$20,000,000]. Just enough money, and enough donations, to make a point about how seriously people are taking this issue. Money talks louder than words, after all.” When asked how they felt about a recent article published by conservative news website Campus Reform, which seemingly criticized the campaign for its potential to deter alumni from donating to Stevens, Barillaro cited a line by cartoon character Foghorn Leghorn: “That’s a joke son! You missed it! Flew right by ya!”
“Another reason I started this GoFundMe was to make people laugh,” says Barillaro. “We’re raising money for a good cause and reminding Stevens that they made a pretty poor decision. We might as well have fun along the way.” An update posted to the campaign’s GoFundMe page features an Adobe Photoshop template which allows users to place an image on a sign positioned above the academic center in the computer-generated render of the design. One of these pictures, created by Barillaro themself, features the words “Bagels on the Hudson Academic Center.” “People have gotten real creative with it. I love that,” says Barillaro.
As of Oct. 20, 2017, the campaign has raised $1,391. Anyone interested in donating can visit https://www.gofundme.com/name-your-price.