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Lab Rats: CU Sells Student Body to Out-of-State Foundation

On June 6, 1996, the Regents of the University of Colorado submitted a proposal to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJ) for a grant under the Foundation#39;s A Matter of Degree program. The University received $870,269 over 5 years in exchange for using its students, the citizens of Boulder, and the people of Colorado as laboratory rats in a social engineering experiment designed to change campus culture and the laws governing alcohol consumption.[1]

Based in Princeton, New Jersey, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is one of the nations 10 largest It awarded almost $300,000,000 in grants in 1997.[2]

Rather than help sick, poor, or unfortunate individuals, RWJ buys government policy. It spent millions to pass the Clinton health care plan, and continues to lavish funds on organizations and state governments willing to work to increase government control of health care.[3] When RWJ decided that substance abuse was a bigger national health problem than cancer, heart disease, stroke, or diabetes, all foundation funding for tobacco control efforts went from $85,000 a year in 1990 to $10.6 million in 1995.[4]

Organizing vocal coalitions around institutions with the power and influence to drown out any opposition is a key part of RWJ strategy. CU promised to assemble a broad-based task force with members drawn from Boulder City government, restaurant licensing boards, local businesses, and the media to develop and implement action plans to move the project forward. It promised to support the lobbying efforts of the increasingly extreme Mothers against Drunk Driving and DARE, the ineffective drug education program. It also promised to lobby for state legislation to change penalties for drinking and driving.

The grant#39;s action plan makes it clear that CU and the Foundation consider Boulder citizens serfs in CU#39;s fief. Though CU does not control the Boulder police, it promised RWJ that it would maintain increased enforcement by Boulder policein the Hill area which adjoins campus, and budgeted money to pay police salaries. Though CU does not legally represent the citizens of Boulder, it promised to work to change procedures at Boulder#39;s major events such as the annual Kinetics race, the Bolder Boulderthe July fireworks event, the Boulder Fall Festival, the Creek Festival, and Chautauqua.[5]

It also planned to clutter Boulder County highways with remembrance markers, and to work with bar and restaurant owners to curtailhappy hours. Note the euphemisms. One does not work with task forces that include officials who have the power to put one out of business. One does what one is told.

The grant envisions everyone else doing what he is told, as well. CU identified inconsistencies among rules and sanctions in force on campus, in the City of Boulder, and in Boulder County as a problem that contributes to high-risk drinking. It fretted that strict rules on campus would cause students to move to a more amenable location rather than stop drinking.[6] Social engineers tend to ignore the fact that it is irresponsible behavior, rather than drinking per se, that is the problem. CU could have chosen to expel or suspend students who violate the law. Instead, it promised to try to extend RWJ#39;s version of prohibition to the larger community.

The database allowing the various community services involved in enforcement and treatment of alcohol abuse to share casework information is more sinister.[7] RWJ grant proposals give the Foundation ownership of any data arising from activities under its grants.[8] Will students in confidential counseling programs wake up someday and find their lives laid out in full in the RWJ data archive at the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research

The students surveyed in 1993 as a part of a RWJ study on alcohol use and abuse among American college students already have. Their answers to detailed questions about themselves and their family are for sale in a machine readable database at ICPSR. The database covers drinking behavior, drug use, illegal behavior, attitudes of friends and family, sexual practices, and attitudes towards the university policies along with age, sex, year in college, place of residence, race, height, weight, parents#39; education, and religion. Given university records, individual identification would be a snap.[9]

All of which raises a few questions. What is high-risk drinking, exactly What individual data are being collected in the course of this grant and who, specifically, has, or will have, access to it What else has the University promised RWJ in its grant reports Did the University obtain clearance from the University of Colorado at Boulder Human Research Committee before it started experimenting on the entire student body

Finally, is it proper that an institution supported by state tax funds sells its services to an out-of-state foundation in exchange for using its influence and facilities to help impose an alien set of policies on Colorado citizens


[1] Jean Kim. Undated, submitted 26 June 1996. Learning the Boulder Way: Reducing High Risk Behavior, Rewarding Healthy Choices, Rebuilding Communities. A grant proposal presented to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for A Matter of Degree: Reducing High Risk Drinking Among College Students, p.2. Note that the American Medical Association administers the A Matter of Degree program for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
[2] Financial information from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 1997 Annual Report as posted on the internet on 9/28/98. See
www.rwjf.org/ann97/annual.htm lt;http://www.rwjf.org/ann97/annual.htmgt;. RWJ tends to lag other foundations in its generosity. See Daniel T. Oliver, The most generous Big FoundationsWho Are They Alternatives in Philanthropy, June 1996. Washington D.C: The Capital Research Center. www.capitalresearch.org/ap/ap-0698.html lt;https://i2i.org/gorman/gorman/www.capitalresearch.org/ap/ap-0698.htmlgt;.
[3] Spending includes direct support of the Clinton health care plan and direct support of the executive branches of state governments willing to work on implementing Clinton Care in particular states. It also includes funding the push to provide school-based health care centers, grants to local organizations who publicly support that agenda, and salaries to put RWJ scholars in staff positions in the Senate. See, for example, Genevieve M. Brown. May 1999. He New Puritans and Alcohol: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation#39;s Care Agenda, Foundation Watch. Washington, DC: Capital Research Center.
lt;http://www.capitalresearch.org/fw/fw-0599.htm;gt; Robert V. Pambianco. Republicans killed HillaryCare, so why are they cozying up to one of its chief promoters Washington, D.C.: Capital Research Center. lt;http://www.capitalresearch.org/crsee/Opinion%20Editorials/hillarycare.htmlgt;; The Robert Wood Johnson and Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation: Millions and Millions for Managed Care. January 1995. Organization Trends. Washington, D.C.: Capital Research Center; Brigid McMenamin. 16 December 1996. Trojan Horse Money, Forbes, p. 123. lt;http://www.forbes.com/forbes/121696/5814123a.htmgt;
[4] Patrick Reilly. February 1999. A Cure Worse Than the Disease Foundations Health Policy Funding Increases in 1990s. Foundation Watch. Washington, DC: Capital Research Center, p. 2-3.
[5] Jean Kim. Learning the Boulder Way: Reducing High Risk Behavior, Rewarding Healthy Choices, Rebuilding Communities, pp. 12-14.
[6] Jean Kim. Learning the Boulder Way p. 15. It is interesting that part of the program will develop an alcohol education course that will save students from court or from the higher fines that occur with a second offense.
[7] Data bases and data sharing are mentioned several tim
es in the proposal. See Part II, section 7 of the Budget Narrative, the program of information exchange quoted at the bottom of page 17, development of a data base system to enable us to capture and share information on page 11, and the collect[ion] of statistics from the Housing Department, the Office of Student Conduct, campus police, and other enforcement and treatment agencies on page 10.
[8] Request for Project Support and Conditions of Grant, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Form filled out by University. Part 6, Copyright, Foundation use of Data, and Public Use Data. The grantee hereby grants to the Foundation a nonexclusive, irrevocable, perpetual, royalty-free license to reproduce, publish, copy, alter, or otherwise use and to license others to use any and all such materials, including any and all data collected in connection with the grant in any and all forms in which said data are fixed Although the conditions of grant allows for special conditions, that section was blank in the copy provided to the author.
[9] ICPSR Abstract #6577.
lt;http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/cgi/ab/prlfile=6557gt;. To read about the RWJ grant for archiving such studies look on its web page for grant #020032, Archiving of Foundation -Supported Data Collections, University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. lt;http://www.rwjf.org/health/020032s.htmgt;.

Linda Gorman is a Senior Fellow with the Independence Institute, a free-market think tank in Golden, Colorado, lt;https://i2i.org/gt;. This article originally appeared in the Colorado Daily (Boulder), for which Linda Gorman is a regular columnist.

This article, from the Independence Institute staff, fellows and research network, is offered for your use at no charge. Independence Feature Syndicate articles are published for educational purposes only, and the authors speak for themselves. Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action.
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