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Peabody Energy
30 Apr 2015
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Description

Peabody Energy is the world's largest private coal company whose business includes mining, sale, and distribution. It provides electricity for approximately 10% of the entire United States, and has its headquarters in St. Louis. It has known ties with Washington University through the school's Board of Trustees, in which Peabody is always represented. 

Controversy regarding Peabody Energy ignited in Spring 2014 when Washington University students and faculty led a protest against Peabody's seat in the school's Board of Trustees. Professor Bret Gustafson, who participated in many of the protests, claims that "the mission statement of Wash U contradicts its relations with companies like Peabody", before proceeding to elaborate on how Peabody has huge environmental consequences on the region and country. Numerous StudLife articles were written about the company, and its image is often seen in a negative light among Washington University students.

Peabody calls to attention the power structure of the University, as Professor Gustafson asserts that "Mark Wrighton has no power." Washington University's relationships with benefactors and companies like Peabody may entail their influence over many university decisions, policies, and investments. The effect of these companies on the University, and therefore on the St. Louis community itself, is certainly far beyond a simple monetary investment. Officials in Peabody and other large companies may hold significant power over decisions that in turn impact the city of St. Louis itself. 

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