NYC Sackler-funded museums deserve support from students



The Editorial Board

The Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma, have agreed to pay $270 million to settle a case brought by Oklahoma state alleging that the pharmaceutical company played a role in the opioid addiction epidemic that has killed more than 200,000 in the United States.

In light of the lawsuit settlement, Baruch College students are left with a tough choice. We enjoy the privilege of having free access to museums across New York City, some of which house Sackler-funded exhibits and wings.

It would seem immoral for Baruch students to continue to go to these exhibits because they are funded directly by a family that perpetuated the opioid crisis.

But the arts are consistently underfunded and should not be separated from a consistent benefactor. Although the family is at fault and should face scrutiny, they should also try to improve themselves and their social footprint. They should not stop funding programs beneficial to society and, rather, should increase their outreach. They should attempt to right the wrongs they have committed by continuing to support the arts, as well as mitigating the damage they have done.

How can someone recover and repair their image if they are not given the chance to do so? Preventing them from donating money to the arts is pointless. Instead, they should do everything in their power to give back. The Sacklers donated 1,000 works of art and $7.5 million to the Smithsonian Museum since its opening, according to The Washington Post. They donate millions of dollars to museums around the world, but ever since the scandal, some museums have begun to stop or reconsider accepting donations. Three museums — the National Portrait Gallery, the Tate and the Guggenheim — have already cut ties. There is public outcry for more institutions to follow in their footsteps.

But it is more beneficial for cultural institutions to continue to accept Sackler money than to deny it. At the end of the day, their money is as good as anyone else’s — and not everyone is willing to donate on the scale that the Sacklers are. It is more worthwhile to accept the money than to not so the arts continue to flourish.

Unethically earned money can still be put to good use. There is no reason to avoid taking advantage of the resources that a family gave to society, especially if that family is trying to make reparations. This is why the Sacklers must own up to what they’ve done and publicly apologize.