The University of Connecticut Foundation spent nearly $200,000 on private charter jets in 2023, according to recently published financial documents, which has led to calls for increased transparency from a prominent campus activism group. 

The foundation’s 2023 fiscal report shows that it paid $193,409 to ApolloJets LLC, a luxury private jet charter company based in New York. This was the fifth largest payment by the foundation in 2023

Though the information is publicly available on the UConn Foundation’s website, the spending was brought to light in an Instagram post made by the Fossil Fuel Free UConn coalition, an advocacy group which advocates ending the use of fossil fuels at UConn, on Feb. 18. 

In a statement from Fossil Fuel Free UConn obtained by WHUS News, the group called the spending on private charter jets “one more example of the Foundation’s appalling record on transparency and accountability.” The group has been vocal about its desire for more accountability from the UConn Foundation and administration. 

In the statement, the group called for greater accountability and fiscal transparency from Amy Yancey, the President and CEO of the UConn Foundation, so that students can be more aware of the foundation’s finances.

“It is unconscionable for a public university to be hiding from ethical consideration regarding its financial practices,” said the group in the statement. “Students have a right to know what they are paying for and the UConn community has a right to determine that the university’s money is spent in alignment with its goals as an education institution.”

Tomas Hinckley, a second-semester Freshman who is a member of the coalition, was the member who took a deep dive into the foundation’s financial documents after another member of the organization mentioned it in a group chat. He described the frequent presence of private jet spending as “almost a bit comical.” His research found that private jet companies have frequently been in the top five reported contractors in recent years. Examples of this include payments in 2018 and 2019 to charter company Wheels Up of $208,615 and $375, 431, respectively. In their respective years, these payments ranked as the fifth-highest and second-highest expenditures by the foundation. 

It’s worth noting that the UConn Foundation is only required to name their top five contractors and only needs to report the number of contractors rather than names. There have been some years where as many as 12 unnamed contractors are listed, according to the group’s statement. 

Due to the presence of these “mystery contractors,” Fossil Fuel Free UConn declared that “it is entirely possible and likely that UConn has engaged in other unethical business practices, even if these may not all be apparent on their limited tax return reports.” 

Hinckley said that Fossil Fuel Free UConn views these spendings as another example they can use in their push to hold the UConn Foundation accountable for their undisclosed spending.

“I think it’s part of a larger narrative that we’ve been trying to get people to see, which is that we don’t know what they do,” said Hinckley. “We don’t know what they spend their money on. In a sense, we were lucky that they had to report these things and that somebody noticed, which led us to start searching through what was publicly accessible.” 

Hinckley also said that the lack of fiscal transparency is something that Fossil Fuel Free UConn believes that UConn students should care about, as it plays a role in the quality of education at the university.

“If you’re a person at this university, they’re handling the money that is ultimately going to help fund your education, so you should care about it,” he said. “And you should have a voice about it, which is ultimately what we want to make people think about this.” 
For more information, visit the UConn Foundation website or Fossil Fuel Free UConn’s Instagram page.

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