A group of wealthy donors wants to give the University of Kentucky $7 million to build a dorm for the school's basketball team, which is widely considered one of the top teams entering the 2009-2010 college basketball season. But there's one caveat: The dorm's name must include the word "coal" somewhere in its title.
That stipulation by the group called Difference Makers has caused controversy on the Lexington campus, the Kentucky Kernel reports.
"My opinion is pretty much that coal has been a foundation of Kentucky's economy for many decades, and it's going to be the foundation for many decades to come," says Stephen Gardner, chairman of the UK Mining and Energy Foundation. "Coal research is very important to UK. All of the colleges do a lot of research into coal, and coal supplies a lot of the money for the research."
Opponents of including "coal" in the dormitory's title say that the school would be selling out to the coal industry. Martin Mudd, a UK student and member of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, tells the Kernel that the university shouldn't allow a free advertisement for the coal industry on its campus.
"My personal opinion is that the University of Kentucky has to choose whether it's going to be a friend of big coal or a friend of Kentucky and Kentuckians," Mudd tells the Kernel. "With this announcement, it's clear what the administration feels about that, but I don't think that that view represents everybody on this campus."